On the Mysteries of the Kingdom: God-incidence #2 – 50 years-apart testimonies meet at John’s Gospel!

PREFACE: Again, what I wrote on a Wednesday got confirmed within hours! (Previous)

After drafting this yesterday afternoon, I was ‘God-smacked’ and undone upon hearing a young man of 22 years expressing similar sentiments about the Church as I had at that age and earlier. And upon my reading out my references to scripture, he stunned me by saying the Lord’s been drawing his attention to the verses that strongly affected me!  Having graduated from Bible college, he’s about to plant a new church in London and apply that scripture; whereas over 50 years ago I got led astray through a personal perception. Today’s young apostolic church-planter is the son of the leader whom I’d already mentioned in the opening sentence below!!  Praise You Lord for such God-incidence – awesome!

Entitled ‘The importance of holy mysteries to Christian discipleship and prophecy,’ I didn’t anticipate this draft’s prophetic nature and later realised it’s better published in two parts under a fresh title.

Earlier this year a prophetic leader of new church had a picture for me during a ‘refresh’ coffee morning. Seeing a megaphone turn into a laser, he said it’s time for my blogging to move from ‘broad-brush’ coverage to a narrower, more incisive focus.  Hence, the fewer re-blogs of others’ prophecies unless they’re related to what I already know or can sense (thus confirmations or validations as ‘jigsaw pieces’ and ‘God-incidences’), or else are of especial significance.

Therefore as done recently, my personally-related introductions to re-blogs of others’ prophetic material. The next, by Thomas Harry, is directly relevant to my journey and  necessitates this full introductory blog to prepare our understanding of what Jesus is telling today’s Church.  As in #1, this comes with Thomas’ blessing for my action.

THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM

First and foremost, we need to consider what ‘mystery’ means in the Word of God:

His disciples came to Jesus and said, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” and He replied, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him (and her) more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore, I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand…” (Matthew 13:10-13 NKJV)

The New Spirit-Filled Study Bible provides this definition:

‘Mystery’, Greek ‘musterion’ (moos-tay-ree-on; Strongs #3466). From mueo, “to initiate into the mysteries”, hence a secret known only to the initiated, something hidden requiring special revelation. In the NT the word denotes something that people could never know by their own understanding and that demands a revelation from God. The secret thoughts, plans and dispensations of God remain hidden from unregenerate mankind, but are revealed to all believers. In non-biblical Greek musterion is knowledge withheld, concealed or silenced. In biblical Greek it is truth revealed (Col 1:26). NT musterion focuses upon Christ’s sinless life, atoning death, powerful resurrection and dynamic ascension.’

Jesus’ meaning of ‘mysteries’ is implicit in Apostle Paul’s writing to the church in Corinth on the western side of the isthmus between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese peninsular:

‘Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God‘ (1Cor 4:1)…‘And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing’ (1Cor 13.2)…’For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.’ (1 Cor 14.2)

References to ‘mystery’ appear nearly two dozen times, again mainly by Paul plus a few in The Apocalypse.  BUT note there are no references to either variant of the word in the Old Testament – so it appears this reference and related teaching were reserved only for new revelations that Jesus brought from our heavenly Father and God.

Moreover, that differential between Testaments emphasises a divine origin of especially reserved knowledge and revelation compared to that claimed for the supposed mystery schools of pagan religions, like those of ancient Egypt.

In my humble opinion, the meaning of ‘holy mystery’ is little understood and appreciated – perhaps even by those well-grounded in scripture – but is slowly improving as a result of the increasing interest in the prophetic.

As Biblical and anointed modern prophecy are dovetailing in these End-times, that state of awareness needs to change up a gear or two. Thus, all earnest followers of Jesus need to dive deeper into His living waters to be immersed in His mysteries.

Yet we do need to be wise and careful, and learning of the error in my own searching for those mysteries before I was blessed to be born-again may be a warning and help.

A PRE-CHRISTIAN JOURNEY

Readers of the two recent postings on the ‘God-incidental’ 21st anniversary of the solar eclipse of 1999 and ‘GPS #50’ on Luke 21 and the ‘Bridge over The Pond’ may recall the reference to my mother’s Catholic Sunday Missal.

When I was a youngster she’d take me to Sunday mass, yet I wasn’t sent to a Catholic school. The Latin liturgy was rather a bore but I began to pay attention to the readings in English and how they related to the Sunday’s picture in the Missal.

[NB: Next 2 paragraphs were read aloud to the young church-planter – Preface refers]

I recall thinking it must have been awesome to have been around Jesus and seen all He said and did. Also, two especially significant verses heard or read in mother’s book got embedded into my brain and, although buried in the unconscious, never got overwritten.

One was of Jesus telling his disciples they’d do greater works than He was doing! The other was by one of His closest followers and who surmised at the close of his Gospel account:If everything He’d done was written down there wouldn’t be enough room in the world to contain the books!’  (John 14:12 and 21:25)

In view of that eye-witness account and modern churches’ failure in the greater works, plus misrepresentation of their founder, I became convinced a lot of what Jesus taught had been lost, or even suppressed, by the early church. The truth must be out there somewhere, and so I decided to investigate and search it out for myself.

Next, having learned about the Western esoteric tradition, I was attracted at 21 years of age to a society that published books on the ‘mystical life’ and ‘secret doctrines’ of Jesus, thus claiming He was one of many perfected ‘masters’! Their claims were based upon Jesus introducing His disciples to the ‘mysteries’ – including reincarnation (Elijah coming as John the Baptist). Supposedly, these secret teachings continued down through the centuries in the practice of Gnosticism, the early Church’s great opponent that attracted false teachers and prophets. Gnostics claimed their initiation into the ‘mysteries’ brought them special revelations and wisdom, thereby setting them above ordinary followers of Jesus, as well as engendering all sorts of heretical theologies.

So, as a young man I got enticed and ensnared in the devil’s domain but only through the grace of Jesus Christ’s personal intervention was I brought into His Kingdom. He put me in a church that gave me a good grounding in scripture and pointing me in the right for receiving deliverance from the evil one. That’s another story, as outlined in Jesus Freed Me!

Having been immersed in that non-Christian, esoteric knowledge, I can attest that the difference between that deceptive discipline and holy revelations from the Lord is like the contrast between His Light and the devil’s darkness.

Born-again Christians have a personal, direct relationship with Jesus and so we can  hear His voice ourselves, and receive and operate in gifts from the Holy Spirit. Even so, all we perceive from Father, Son and Holy Spirit is to be weighed and tested against the plumb-line of the scriptures.

In the next post (scheduled for tomorrow) Revd Thomas Harry, senior leader of Falkirk Full Gospel Church, brings anointed teaching on “several scriptures that will turn our thinking upside down, simply by rightly dividing the Word of truth, by interpreting scripture by using scripture…to give believers a sample of where God is taking this generation….”

On the Mysteries of the Kingdom: God-incidence #1 – maths in scripture!

Having seen another profound paper from pastor Thomas Harry I’m led to precede my introduction to it by reminding ourselves of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. (It is purely for information but I thank those who may wish to read the links.) Thomas kindly responded to my intention with,

“Your style of Intro is perfect and encourages people so I am full of support for it, rather than just a link. I enjoyed the link on mysteries, also was a blessing.”

A MATHEMATICAL GOD-INCIDENCE

Four years ago a series of overviews on the growing rapprochement between science and scripture were featured on this blog. It included a particularly peculiar ‘coincidence’ between my Summer-time reading and a physicist’s blog entitled Pure, Breathtaking Mathematical Beauty, which centred around ‘The Euler Identity’. What’s amazing is I’d already read how that same formula is hidden within the Hebrew and Greek of the first verses of the first chapters of Genesis and of the Gospel by John!

Therefore, I blogged on this news in Astonishing Mathematics; the conjunction between Creation, Gospel and Science? and introduced ‘Unlocking The Sign Miracles of John’ by Jonathan Hill. A continuation was posted after re-blogging Joanne Rolston’s Number 153, Signs & Symbols (whom Jesus personally encouraged to venture into His mathematics!) and more details in A Post-Resurrection Miracle as a ‘Mystery’ Now Revealed.

That post also considered the modern definition of ‘mystery’ as an unsolved puzzle, or something difficult or impossible to explain – which is rather trite. When using that term, even eminent mathematician-physicist Sir Roger Penrose tends toward a circumscribed perception of reality, as quoted and discussed in that posting.

That blog continued by quoting Jesus on holy mysteries, as at Matthew 13, which we’ll revisit in ‘God-incidence #2’.

Blog anniversary: ‘The Fellowship of the Secret’

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Funny the way things go but I didn’t realise ’til yesterday, when I started blogging more on the current theme, that a year ago today I introduced ‘The Fellowship of the Secret’, an e-book by my namesake Richard Barker.

Even ‘funnier’ are the facts I’m uncovering whilst trying to continue from what I’d jotted as of last night.  I was researching scripture and drafting a post to continue and conclude my current thoughts on the Kingdom, especially about the ‘mysteries’ Apostle Paul mentions. I’d previously checked last year’s piece and found the link to Richard’s book is no longer valid. Upon updating it yesterday I found his blog Fellowship of the Secret and decided to ‘follow’.

NOW, it’s getting much ‘funnier’ – even startlingly weird and very uncanny!…(and my email provider’s playing up and not failing to connect and download! So something’s afoot).:

Fellow WordPress bloggers are familiar with our administrative screen’s options of using either ‘My Site’ or ‘Reader’, which displays the latest posts of blogs we follow on WP.

For some purposeless reason I don’t recall, soon after starting this blog I went back into an open tab and opened up Reader – LO and behold, right at the top is one from Richard timed about the same time I started this post – UTTERLY EXTRAORDINARY. It reads:

‘The Fellowship of The Secret – Introductory Essay

‘Having completed my series of posts in which I have been commenting on Old Testament passages that particularly came to my attention during the writing of my book, I have composed an essay which will replace the preface in earlier editions of the e-book and the paperback version.

‘It sets out the background to the later edition and provides more insight into what I believe the process I am involved with is leading to. It will either whet your appetite for the book (e-version now free) or put you off entirely, since it challenges virtually everyone to review their current understanding of the Apostle Paul’s writings and that of their tradition.’ (emphasis added)

To read the latest from Richard click/tap Update for Revised Edition.

Finding it far from easy to think, because I’m ‘God-smacked at nature of this ‘coincidence’! The sheer serendipity demonstrates the LORD’s HAND MUST SURELY BE IN THIS – and is perhaps answering reservations and questions over what I propose writing on the ‘mysteries’ and recent posts. IN FACT, I extracted references on Richard’s book for this post from yesterday’s draft because the book seems especially significant at this time and needs announcing once again!

So, I’m SO stunned and left feeling sluggish with heavy limbs, like when Holy Spirit falls! Have had to take a break and share with Nina and visiting friend.

MOREOVER, a year ago my coverage of Richard’s book was surrounded with several God-incidents, as in God-incidents Validate Cycles… and Surprising Endorsement of ‘The Fellowship of the Secret’. The first introduces my namesake in some depth and then describes ‘The Fellowship of the Secret’ as follows:

‘(Richard) describes it as identifying, “the key that unlocks an age-enduring  mystery surrounding the apparent disconnection between OT prophecy and the out-working of the Church/Gospel age.” 

‘This claim, however, is not so new or surprising to those who study prophetic scripture outside the confines of the Catholic or Reformed churches, especially in view of the latter’s wide consensus on the cessation of Holy Spirit’s activity after the 1st Century.

‘In the overview of his e-book Richard focuses upon Paul’s statement in Ephesians 3:8-11 about his personal revelations. I especially appreciate this conclusion regarding the mutual failure in Jews and early Christians to understand one another:

“…Christendom’s part pertains to a failure to grasp the “the fellowship of the secret” – its implications to broader providence and God’s as yet unfulfilled terrestrial promises to the nation He first chose for Himself.”

‘Dipping into the extracts Richard’s put online, I like his hammering home on what the Church has lost and missed, and especially note the following from the first chapter ‘The Hidden Dispensation’ of ‘The Fellowship of the Secret’:

“The New Testament “elephant in the room”: the biblically unexplained and largely undebated non-fulfilment (or subversion) of scriptural prophecy regarding the terrestrial and political aspects of the Jewish apocalypse pertains to a secret disclosure, revealed to and through Paul of which I was previously unaware but now realise is the key to understanding Old Testament prophecy…”

‘Preceding that section Richard’s remarks are of direct relevance to recent posts on this blog about keys to and unsealing of the Book of Daniel, with emphasis added:

“In the religious sphere an on-going learning curve has been guaranteed through the intentionally cryptic profundity of Holy Scripture that was never intended to be entirely unravelled until the end of the age, for it contains at least one significant mystery (or secret) that was not to be disclosed until such a time (Dan 12:1-4 & 7; Rev 10:4,7)…”

‘I suspect that those who love to sink their teeth into a theological treatise topped by a prophetical icing will gain by reading my namesake’s e-book – especially in broadening  our own understanding of End-times. I certainly will.’

WOW!

What is the Lord saying to us and about to reveal? I suspect it may be quite startling and take the Church into greater depths of intimacy and of revelation upon re-instating its full nature and purpose. After writing this I note Richard’s remark in the first paragraph of his Update (emphasis mine):

‘A more serious consideration reflected on during the Christmas/New Year period (2015/16) is that whatever anyone else may currently think I perceive myself to be involved in a sacred task – to make known to as many Christians who will receive it, what I understand to be God’s intentions for the currently scattered assemblies of Jesus-followers in view of what (I merely surmise) He intends to bring about within our generation (cf. Acts3:21 Greek). So in effect, the book is an expansive “prophetic insight” in which its author came within a matter of a few days to a quite new understanding of certain biblical passages and events within Church history…’

We’re getting closer to the prophesied return of the Lord. Watch out world!

Unity across churches manifests God’s Kingdom

Puzzle Globe and Book by ThanunkornHere I share more insights gained since Holy Week, citing an example to prove this post’s title and looking at early church history. First, listen to Jesus in prayer:

“Father, I pray for those who will believe in Me..that they may all be one, as You Father are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me.” (John 17:20-21 NKJV – emphasis added)

Is Jesus’ prayer about to be fully answered at long, long last? Especially for the sake of saving lost souls?

Sixty years ago many Christian denominations had scant tolerance for one another, even though a large percentage of Britons attended church regularly or, if not, would at least go for Easter and Christmas. Those who didn’t were religiously well-informed – unlike today’s spiritually unwashed masses who are religious illiterates! As a youngster I was subject to some most unexpected personal animosity between Protestants and Catholics – despite their claiming to believe in the same God!

Thus, disunity was one reason for my rejecting Churchianity and seeking truth beyond science and religion in metaphysics and mysticism (the Eastern and New Age variety).

As well as ignoring Jesus’ expressed desire for unity and command to love one another, believers weren’t doing what Jesus did – and more – as He foretold:

“Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12 NKJV)

History demonstrates churches across the East and West hadn’t complied with Jesus’ desire. Moreover, it seems God didn’t answer His Son’s deep prayer request!  Mankind’s free-will and Satan’s steering were determined to prevent its fulfillment at all costs.

Heavenly Father can ensure Jesus’ prayer gets met. No doubt He’s waiting for the right time and conditions for inspiring believers who are responsive to His Spirit; rather than to make them comply. He didn’t create robotic automatons. First, however, we need to want and allow Holy Spirit into our lives rather than deny, quench or grieve His gracious ways.

Re-born Into Christ

Consequently, it was an extremely pleasant surprise to find after being born again in 1989-90 those antagonisms had disappeared. When I was baptised in Holy Spirit in 1992 I saw Jesus healing people and so I wanted to associate with the group who’d organised that day’s event. That Circle of Prayer for Healing in the mid-Thames Valley was a mixture of Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists and independents – and all charismatics!

Thus, spiritual unity of that small group enabled Holy Spirit to flow in power and manifest the presence of the Kingdom of God – praise You Lord. Hopefully we may expect a much larger manifestation now we’re 25 years further down the road…

An increasing emphasis from those with prophetical voices and gifting is indicating Holy Spirit wants to inspire, infuse and direct our hearts and minds with Jesus’ love for fellow Christians, and to express that as a Unity of spirit and action – so the world no longer sees believers as squabbling hypocrites and realise who Jesus is and that we really do have the answers they’re desperately needing and seeking spiritually.

Hence my enthusiasm towards unity in belief and action (with the caveat of obedience to Jesus’ instructions) throughout Christendom  – no doubt the intensification of secular and terrorist persecution is drawing us out of our shells and making us stand up!

So, let’s remind ourselves of recent ‘God-incidents’ focusing on Unity (as here and here).:

  • Extraordinary vision: “I watched as these fiery, burning and anointed ones moved together in PERFECT UNITY”.
  • Revelation from the Lord about angels of Revival being released and that “The body of Christ is coming alive in Jesus, in purity, in life, in love, in UNITY”.
  • Obedient response to: “The Rhema Word God has had for me the past few months is UNITY”.
  • Writing a new book for which “The major outcome theme…is Unity”.
  • Three years’ preparation for church-wide act of unity across the UK.

The details of the last from Malcolm Duncan warrant brief re-iteration:

Revd Malcolm Duncan“I lead Spring Harvest and for three years I have been working on an act of unity across the United Kingdom that will see all…evangelical bible conventions and celebrations declaring that, whatever our theological differences are, we are one in Christ Jesus. It is going to involve 130,000 Christians from March (Spring Harvest) through to October next year with the Festival of Life…perhaps the biggest demonstration of Christian unity that we have seen in the evangelical church in the United Kingdom for almost two hundred years – and they’ve all said “Yes” – there’s the miracle! They’re all on board, and I am sure the Bible says,

“Where the brethren dwell together in unity, the Lord commands a blessing.”

Seventeen months ago Heidi Baker brought a word about ‘A New Move of God in the UK’  which prophesied about Unity as follows (underlining added):

Heidi at CTF Wembley“…There’s going to be a movement of unity in the UK that’s going to shake the world, says the Lord. I hear the prophetic word of the Lord. It’s going to flow through the universities and the colleges of the universities. It’s going to flow through denomination and the non-denominations. There’s going to be a move of unity within the Body of Christ.

“You’re going to fill Wembley Stadium. You’re going to fill stadiums, stadiums, with worshippers of the living God. And there’s going to be this holy affection where people come before the Lord. They’re not going to even know who’s speaking in the stadium, they’re not going to even know the name of the preachers, because they’re coming fixing their eyes on Jesus. It’s going to shake the nation, says the Lord.

“There’s going to be a unity even between Scotland and Ireland and the UK, that’s going to SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE. There’s going to be a shaking that’s going to bring a unity, says the Lord. There’s going to be something that the people of other faiths are going to see in this nation, as believers come together in radical love…”

Amen to all the above.

The Early Church on Jesus and Unity

My meditations have been based upon Apostle John’s understanding and revelations of the glory and nature of His dearly beloved rabbi, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This meant musing upon, seeking the Lord and researching into what the disciples may have learned after the Resurrection; ‘To whom’, the physician and chronicler Dr Luke records that Jesus, ‘also presented Himself alive after His sufferings by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and (His) speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.’ (Acts 1:3 NKJV)

[THUS, after that privileged private teaching they logically concluded the Kingdom was going to be restored to Israel. That’s clearly the Lord’s action plan – they just wanted to know when to expect its execution. Had that not been a legitimate request they’d have been rebuked. But Jesus told them that’s not their – OR His – concern because it’s The Father’s prerogative! Jesus had another plan for them: transmitting the Gospel with all the consequential signs and wonders: ie. fulfillment of John 14:12 – see Acts1:6-8.]

MBarkerWebPhotoScriptural meditations encouraged me to re-read The Hidden Tradition of the Kingdom of God – an exceptionally informative book by the Methodist Bible scholar Margaret Barker, whose Doctorate in Divinity was conferred by the Archbishop of Canterbury, ‘in recognition of her work on the Jerusalem Temple and the origins of Christian Liturgy’.  (It is designated, ‘Temple Theology’.)

Dr Barker’s significant new contribution to the understanding of the New Testament opened up important fields for research.

In checking out her website I found the paper ‘Jesus the Nazorean’ most illuminating and confirming my thoughts on Paul’s many references to the ‘mysteries’ of God. On page 9 therein lies a useful insight into our consideration of Unity in the Lord (emphases mine):

“Theodotus, the second century teacher whose work survives only as quotations in Clement of Alexandria, was condemned by later generations as a Gnostic. He taught about Jesus’ role in restoring the unity, just as John’s Jesus did in his final prayer after the last supper. This is what Theodotus said:
They say that our angels were put forth as a unity and are One in that they came out from the One.
Now since we existed in separation, Jesus was baptised that the undivided should be divided until he should unite us with them in the Fullness, that we, the many, having become one, might be mingled with the One which was divided for our sakes.’

“And this is what John’s Jesus said:
”[I pray] that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”. (John 17.21)
Restoring the unity was a sign of divinity. But John’s Jesus also brought judgement: ‘[The Father] has given all judgement to the Son’ (John 5.22).

“Theodotus is not telling us anything different from what Paul said in his message to the
Ephesians:
’For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth’ (Eph.1.9-10).

“So too in his letter to the Colossians, Paul said that Christ holds all things together (Col.1.17).

“The secret of the kingdom was the secret of unity, restoring all things to their unity with God, and so Paul saw the future as the Son of God bringing all things into the kingdom – he called it subduing all things, the judgement – ‘that God may be all in all’ (1 Cor.15.28).”

Therefore, in my humble opinion, this information is well-worth mulling over. I’m especially pleased Dr Barker refers to and stresses Ephesians 1:9 (see my covering intro to God’s Eternal Purpose – and reference to Unity therein). This reinforces my interest in what Paul knew by personal revelation from Jesus Himself, as well as gained when he was caught up into heaven.

Thank you Lord that Your Spirit of Wisdom and of Revelation brings knowledge of You (Eph 1:17).

Footnote:

In discussion with a leader at a local church we visited recently I queried his opinion upon the source of Paul’s knowledge of the Last Supper and the Resurrection. He was keenly recommending a new devotional book, 40 Days With Jesus by Dave Smith of New Frontiers church. In considering the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, the leader echoed Smith’s citing ‘compelling evidence from 1 Corinthians 15 (as) important because not only was it…written early [in 55AD] but (also) Paul’s evidence would have come from meetings with the other apostles that took place only a few years after the resurrection itself’.

This book’s a useful adjunct to my meditations, but the above remark may be playing fast and loose with scriptural data!!

Paul’s letter to the Galatians may be dated 6 years earlier, depending upon which of two groups he was addressing, or else contemporary with that sent to the church in Corinth. In stating how he changed from being a severe persecutor of believers to becoming an on-fire believer and preacher, Paul writes (Gal 1:15-16 NKJV):

“When it pleased God…to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went to Arabia and returned again to Damascus.”

In about 62 AD, Dr Luke completed his careful investigations of early church history. He wrote, ‘In his account to King Agrippa Paul states, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision but declared first to those in Damascus…(to) repent, turn to God and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:19-20). Earlier, in recording post-conversion events of Paul in that city, where Paul regained his sight through Ananias, Luke states ‘Then Saul spent some days with the disciples in Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in synagogues…’ (Acts 9:19-20).

Therefore, if Saul didn’t receive full revelation personally about the Last Supper and the Resurrection whilst blind, then wouldn’t he have got the basics from Ananias’ group?

Further reading:

[Credit: ‘Puzzle Globe and Book’ by Thanunkorn, courtesy Freedigitalphotos.net ]

‘God-incidents’ validate cycles and point to the near future – 2

A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

Courtesy Digitalart at Freedigitalphotos.netTo continue from part 1 on the significance of 40 and 55 years periods and how the latter had cropped up in a video on a Wednesday, followed by an insight into it on the Thursday…

Next came an astounding surprise on the Friday – making a triplet of consecutive ‘coincidences’, again!

An extraordinary confirmation

I was completely unaware on Thursday 26th March that a Richard Barker – my namesake – had emailed me. However, in the busy-ness of getting a blog published that afternoon I’d not checked incoming mail. Unusually for our regular long weekends off-line, I was ‘nudged’ to check my email on the Friday.

I was amazed to find one not only from someone with my name, but also because what he wrote covered the very subject matter I’d heard on the Wednesday evening – ie., Dr O’s brief remark about the early Church’s rejection of its Jewish roots. This was on the evening before Richard emailed me!

We’re both writers, retired Civil Servants and our journeys in Jesus have a common factor which has taken us along different paths, which have now crossed.  Taking the decisive step in 1970 to follow Jesus, Richard joined the evangelical Reformed Church. After studying the early Church Fathers, however, he became convinced the Reformers were mistaken and was received into the Catholic Church 15 years ago.

My journey went from Catholicism of my childhood to the ‘New Age’ when a young man and engaged in occultism until Jesus rescued and ‘saved’ me in 1989. Then, to provide a solid Biblical grounding, He put me in a ‘Free’ Baptist church and a few years later I was baptised in the Holy Spirit. Subsequently, I received training and practised prayer counselling and deliverance ministry, and after moving and marrying entered ‘the River’  that honours the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements, as well as the prophetic.

So, I appreciate the other Richard’s Catholic, ex-Calvinist perspective as being highly informative as well as interesting.

Moreover, Richard’s profound encounter with Holy Spirit in July 2013 introduced him to the prophetic and revelatory realm, about which he has been led to write. This brought about a deep interest in Apostle Paul and he ‘stumbled upon’ my blog in doing a search on his own name and his e-book centred on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians – and which he’d published that very day!

[It’s noteworthy that another writer blogged that same month about an exciting trend of the Spirit drawing Christians together. Also, a New Era for the church was dawning, as prophesied by many; eg. Keith Powell spoke of “2011 being pivotal” and Bill Johnson upon 1st September being a turning point in the UK – see ‘2011’ in Library.]

So it’s good that Richard can think outside the institutional box, and especially in being blessed by Holy Spirit’s direct revelation – and is being faithful to what he’s received.

My namesake has kindly allowed me to quote his email about a prophecy he believes the Holy Spirit gave him,

“…the main thrust (of which) concerns the re-unification of the churches and also the reconciliation of our Jewish Fathers of the Faith with their Gentile children (us) whom according to Paul have been incorporated into the Kingdom ahead of them to “provoke them to jealousy”  (Rom 11:11). That reconciliation I believe will be achieved when the churches (not least Rome) acknowledge misunderstandings concerning the promises to the Jews in the Old Testament (pertaining to “the fellowship of the secret” (Eph 3:9-11 Greek) which I am clear nobody has really understood including myself until my encounter with the Spirit.”

On the last point and in view of his background, Richard has probably realised that the Replacement Theology taught since the early Church is widely recognised as an error. Nevertheless, as he states, a higher revelation beyond most theological understanding could be emerging.

The concept of inter-denomination reconciliation/re-unification to which Holy Spirit has led Richard reminds me of the words Heidi Baker brought last October on a new move of God within the UK, for which this brief extract cannot do justice:

Heidi at CTF Wembley“There’s going to be a movement of unity in the UK that’s going to shake the world, says the Lord. I hear the prophetic word of the Lord. It’s going to flow through the universities and the colleges of the universities. It’s going to flow through denomination and the non-denominations. There’s going to be a move of unity within the Body of Christ.

“… There’s going to be something that the people of other faiths are going to see in this nation, as believers come together in radical love.

“… There’s going to be another historical move of God…

“…And there’s something specific happening as you start just lining up in this unity. There’s going to be a unity beyond anything the UK’s ever seen. It’s like there’s something, I feel like you’re going to become like these radical lovers of God that’s going to cross all denominations, all the barriers.” (Emphases reflect emphasis in Heidi’s voice.)

The ‘Mysteries’

Richard and I share an appreciation of the Kingdom ‘mysteries’, or secrets, as in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. About the time of blogging An insight into the supra-natural I searched out all NT references on ‘mysteries’ in my study Bible, highlighted and mulled over them – including Jesus’ comment to His disciples,

“To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to those who are outside all things come in parables….” (Mark 4:11 NKJV)

I particularly note Apostle Paul’s quiet sojourn in Arabia where he must have deepened his relationship with the living Lord thereby beginning a life of revelations on “The Way” of Christ. There’s frequent reference throughout his letters to his personal insights.

I look forward to reading Richard’s prophetical-cum-theological ‘take’ in his e-book The Fellowship of The Secret. He describes it as identifying, “the key that unlocks an age-enduring  mystery surrounding the apparent disconnection between OT prophecy and the out-working of the Church/Gospel age.” 

This claim, however, is not so new or surprising to those who study prophetic scripture outside the confines of the Catholic or Reformed churches, especially in view of the latter’s wide consensus on the cessation of Holy Spirit’s activity after the 1st Century.

In the overview of his e-book (as above link), Richard focuses upon Paul’s statement in Ephesians 3:8-11 about his personal revelations. I especially appreciate this conclusion regarding the mutual failure in Jews and early Christians to understand one another:

“…Christendom’s part pertains to a failure to grasp the “the fellowship of the secret” – its implications to broader providence and God’s as yet unfulfilled terrestrial promises to the nation He first chose for Himself.”

Dipping into the extracts Richard makes available online, I like his hammering home on what the Church has lost and missed, and especially note the following from the first chapter ‘The Hidden Dispensation’ of ‘The Fellowship of the Secret’:

“The New Testament “elephant in the room”: the biblically unexplained and largely undebated non-fulfilment (or subversion) of scriptural prophecy regarding the terrestrial and political aspects of the Jewish apocalypse pertains to a secret disclosure, revealed to and through Paul of which I was previously unaware but now realise is the key to understanding Old Testament prophecy…”

Preceding that section Richard’s remarks are of direct relevance to recent posts on this blog about keys to and unsealing of the Book of Daniel, with emphasis added:

“In the religious sphere an on-going learning curve has been guaranteed through the intentionally cryptic profundity of Holy Scripture that was never intended to be entirely unravelled until the end of the age, for it contains at least one significant mystery (or secret) that was not to be disclosed until such a time (Dan 12:1-4 & 7; Rev 10:4,7)…”

I suspect that those who love to sink their teeth into a theological treatise topped by a prophetic icing will gain by reading my namesake’s e-book – especially in broadening  our own understanding of End-times. I certainly will.

For details on Richard’s blog click > The Fellowship of the Secret. (updated 20.4.16)

Summary

Reflecting on all this I notice the trio of ‘coincidental’ and thereby significant events, took place over 3 successive days, making an excellent example of ‘God-incidence’. That is, one that confirms and validates what I’d heard and recalled, as shared above.

All this suggests the Lord’s invisible hand is distributing keys to a complex network that connects Biblical and private prophecies and events to interweave them with historical cycles, as well as with personal destinies – wheels within wheels.

Next, we consider a 70-years period and how it points to 2017, as well as confirmatory teachings Charlie Shamp brought at the Passover-Easter conference; eg., on Daniel, the Age to Come, Blood Moons, the Temple and the Old Testament power behind Islam; taking us full circle and up another level – what else!

To be continued

Images credit:

Freedigitaliphotos.net kindly supplied the following courtesy of
  • Digitalart, ‘Burning  Heart’.

What have Paul Keith’s video and Mary Magdalene got in common?

Flying puzzles by Nokhoog Buchachon, courtesy Freedigitalphotos.com

To God alone be the glory for this true story…

Join me as I meander along my musings and, as we wend our way, watch out for.:

  • a modern movie and its location
  • a medieval English abbey
  • a lost Renaissance painting
  • a legendary epic voyage
  • the earliest Christian letter
  • a new appreciation of prayer.

Except for the first, the rest took me by surprise the weekend before last. As pieces of an ‘invisible jigsaw’ they’d fallen into view like fresh snow.

Our long weekends off from weekday busy-ness start on Fridays, and a couple of Fridays ago we enjoyed strolling around Chichester city centre in warm sunshine. Eventide, we relaxed by catching up on an iPlayer movie recommended by our eldest daughter…

‘THE WAY’

theway_gallery_L_04This movie written and directed by Emilio Estevez is most engrossing and stars Martin Sheen (aka ‘West Wing’s US President Bartlett) as an irascible American doctor, Tom. He goes to southern France after losing his son (Emilio Estevez) after an accidental death after he’d set off on  “The Way of St. James” (see map).

Rather than returning to the States, Tom wants to honour his son by completing the journey on his behalf. But he doesn’t expect the profound impact this trip has on him. The Way tells the story of his near-500 miles hike to Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain.

The route is one of many to one of the oldest of pilgrimages sites in Europe. I recalled learning about its connection with Reading Abbey upon researching the abbey’s history Founded in 1121 by king Henry I, this English abbey was also one starting place for the Camino de Santiago, and is reputed to have the remains of St James’ hand as a relic. (My researches began in my office overlooking the ruins of the abbey’s mill, and are as copied here.)

So this movie had a personal, albeit indirect, relevance – but more was to come on the ‘morrow…

LOST PAINTING FOUND

The next morning I found buried inside Saturday’s paper some interesting facts about a ‘centuries-old art history mystery’ –

Caravaggio’s original ‘Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy’ has been discovered in a private European collection, the world’s leading expert on the Renaissance master has claimed.

Caravagio_Magdalene

The Telegraph: photo credit La Repubblica

Although the 1606 painting has been copied several times, historian Mina Gregori says the original has finally been found. The Telegraph’s Andrea Vogt says this expert won’t  reveal which country it is in but can confirm that when she first saw the 100 by 90cm oil on canvas in the owners’ home, she had no doubt. Andrea reports, Gregori called the find a “marvellous addition” to the art world. The 80-year-old scholar and authenticator said seeing the original with her own eyes was a career highlight: “I think after all these years, I deserved it”.

This article rang a bell deep in long-forgotten memories of my pre-Christian interests  because:

The painting refers to the legend in which Mary, living as a hermit in a cave in southern France near Aix-en-Provence after Christ’s death, was overcome seven times a day by “the delightful harmonies of the celestial choirs”.

That reference, especially about an ecstatic trance, would connect with remarks I was yet to hear on the third day, and thus start seeing a part of this ‘invisible puzzle’. But we should first consider the importance of this biblical person.

Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus alive after his burial in the garden tomb and so many, including Pope Benedict, regard her as an “Apostle to the Apostles”. She was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, whom Jesus brought back from the dead and was to later become Bishop of Cyprus. This family are reputed to have been of royal blood and owned estates in and around Jerusalem as well as at Magdala near the Sea of Galilee, where the younger sister Mary lived and is said to have fallen into a sinful life. Jesus is thought to have frequented one or other of their premises whilst travelling with dozens of disciples.

This blessed woman became deeply devoted to Jesus after deliverance – no wonder she later sat wrapt in His teaching instead of helping her sister. On that need Jesus remarked, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42 emphasis added).

Hence, Mary Magdalene is patron of contemplatives and Caravaggio’s painting reflects an outcome of her desire and her Master’s promise.

(Thank you to ‘Joe Catholic’ for also pointing out Mary is a model for penitent sinners. Also see this informative rebuttal of modern Catholic biblical scholarship.)

Next, I dived into my library and dug out a book bought in 1971 during my investigations into early Church history.:

THE COMING OF THE SAINTS

Coming o'Saints

This book by John Taylor, first published in 1906, is   replete with source references and combines history and legend to portray the earliest Christian missions into western Europe (Spain, France and Britain).  It helped me – a non-believer –  learn about the early church’s transmission of Jesus’ original teachings. In my story, I explained my desire to find out why churches were not doing what Jesus had done, as promised in John 14:12, as well as how much of His teaching had been lost.

The editor of this book’s 1967 reprint answers complaints about mixing written records and local legend, saying the book shows they substantiate one another and dovetail together. “Of particular interest are the references culled from churches founded by the saints who were companions of our Lord during His ministry”, maintains Gladys Taylor.

She writes her namesake gathered evidence from a pilgrimage made to the French churches, and other countries, and thus produced impressive proof of their antiquity.

Coming o'Saints photos

From top: grotto cave of St Mary Magdalene; church of Les Saintes Maries; crypt of St Martha at Tarascon (J Taylor 1901)

One chapter summarises the Life of St Mary Magdalene complied by Rabanus Maurus (776-856 AD) – a manuscript copy of which is lodged in Magdalen College Library, Oxford. In his closing years he was Archbishop of Mayence (Mainz, Germany).

First however, I needed to re-remind myself of the book’s main thesis. Its first chapters examine the known historical  events, and those behind the scenes, at the close of and after Jesus’ life. Taylor thus adds detail to scripture’s narrative and he posits a list of disciples additional to the apostles, deacons and the family of Jesus. In addition to considering the ‘home-base’ of Capernaum, he lists names of followers from the house on Mont Zion and the city of Jerusalem, and towns of Bethany, Emmaus and Jericho.

Then Taylor covers some early missionary journeys not covered in Acts of the Apostles, noting Dr Luke’s historic account does not refer to the evangelical mission in Sardinia and Spain of John’s brother James. The only reference to James after Pentecost is his death at the hands of Herod in Jerusalem in 44 AD (Acts 12:2). His remains are said to have ended up centuries later back in Santiago de Compostela. Hence, pilgrimages  to his shrine, as mentioned above.

Persecution following Apostle James’ martyrdom led to the dispersal of many disciples from Jerusalem. (This was about 10 years after that led by Saul of Tarsus.)  Tradition of Provence, southern France, has a number of them being bundled into a boat without oars or sails somewhere near Mount Carmel and set adrift. They’re reputed to have been  Lazarus, Joseph of Aramathea, Maximin (leader of disciples after the apostles, and friend committed to the care of the Magdalene) as well as a favoured four: Martha and Mary, Mary wife of Cleopas and a third Mary (Salome) and others.

However, I was interested in checking John Taylor’s reference to the correct James at Jerusalem. Was it John’s brother, or Jesus’ brother James who later led the Jerusalem church and wrote a brief epistle. It is James’ historic ruling at the first Church council  that enabled non-Jews to associate with the Church without having to comply with the Mosaic laws their Jewish brethren had before coming to Christ.

So to clarify, I wasn’t so interested in Mary Magdalene as wanting to check out what Paul wrote to the Galatian churches about his post-conversion history. I recalled mention of  church leaders he met when in Jerusalem, as well as Luke’s account of those meetings (Acts 15)

Written circa 50 AD Paul’s letter is the first and therefore the oldest, canonical Christian document and earlier than the Gospels. Therein Paul tells what he did, where he went and how he learned the Gospel of Jesus by direct, personal revelation; that is, not from any original disciple or apostle:

13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it….15 But when it pleased God…16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.)  21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God in me.

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. (Emphases added)

SUNDAY VIDEO SESSION

Paul Keith DavisThe next day, Sunday, we wanted more teaching and chose to watch the Paul Keith Davis and James Levesque video discussion I’d blogged about.

In arguing for the supra-natural abilities and dimension required to bring in the harvest that meets the heart of God, “as it is defined in scripture”, Paul Keith maintains this is for those who walk with God in realms of glory and demonstrate the supra-natural. He defines and explains this relating it to Jesus’ own ability (from 27:00 on video).

Then he tells of his mis-perception of Jesus’ prayer life (at 30:35) and surmising what it had been like after a long day ministering and teaching and travelling on foot – and then go pray and spend hours in prayer…thinking,

“…what a disciplined life!” says Paul Keith.

“No, you totally misunderstood My prayer life!” the Lord said.

“He said, My prayer life was My reward!”

“The Lord’s been showing me how, at the end of the day, after He did everything He was supposed to do, He went out into the wilderness and He was released into the Presence of the Father!

“Just think about that for a minute…after a hard day could you go pray 5 hours…?  No?  Think of it as this:

“James, go spend 5 hours standing before the throne of God, go spend 5 hours in the Presence of your Father – let Him download on you, let Him refresh you, restore you.

“That’s why Jesus could pray all night! He lived under an open heaven and when He went to pray – as soon as He quieted His flesh – He was standing in the Presence of His Father, standing before the throne of God, getting refreshed and learning what the Father wanted to reveal.”

An exceptionally instructional and fascinating teaching. At 41:30 he  considers this was how apostle Paul spent lengthy periods with the Lord before he ever met any disciples and apostles and moved into any ministry.

Consequently, having considered that the day before I was ready for what he said!

CONCLUSION

This insight on Jesus’ prayer life is the common denominator between the discussion on video and Mary Magdalene, who spent lengthy periods immersed in God, as had Jesus.

Paul Keith’s insight doesn’t detract from but enhances the model prayer Jesus gave his disciples, as recorded in Matthew 6:5-15.  And it magnifies Jesus’ personal prayer to our Father in John 17.  It’s no wonder this Mary went so deep yet so high in contemplative  ecstasy – will we?

(Remember to, “First seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” – Matt 6:33). 

Furthermore, from apostle Paul’s explanation this kind of intimacy was the norm in the earliest years of “The Way”, as the fellowship was known before the term “Christian” was coined at Antioch. (See Acts chapters 18-24, especially vv 24:18 and 22.)

Also, Paul Keith later refers to the event on the road to Emmaus, about which and without any prior intention I’d inserted a remark just before publishing the latest blog  before that weekend!

Therefore, that weekend is yet another example of ‘God-incidence’ (footnote refers).

By the way!

A couple of days later upon opening up my Bible to find where I’d got to, I found at the second turn the beginning of Luke chapter 8 staring up at me. There from the left-hand column just beside the volume’s spine I just couldn’t miss these words:

Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities — Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

Later, upon reviewing and adjusting the draft of this piece, I decided to refer to the first name for the group of believers as followers of the way of Jesus Christ; the way of life He taught and demonstrated as “The Way, The Truth and The Life”.

Then when I’d done and re-read the draft I realised I’d gone FULL circle – starting with the movie ‘The Way’ I’d ended up by including scriptures on ‘The Way of Jesus’ !!

Furthermore, an email arrived about that time which opens as follows.:

Truth, we find, is stranger than fiction. Some things that happen to us when in relationship with Christ no writer could make up. And I am amazed continually at what our God does in my life and in this world…(continue here)

Could the Lord be getting our attention to pray the way He does?

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Footnotes:

Image: Flying puzzles by Nokhoog Buchachon, courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.com

Jesus & Mary fable:

My pre-Christian activities made me well aware of stories around Le Tresor Maudit, the cursed treasure of the Knights Templars, said to have been hidden for centuries but discovered by a parish priest. He spent a fortune on re-decorating a church in Rennes-le-Chateau and building a tower, both of which were dedicated to St Mary Magdalene.
Readers may know of it through bestselling The Da Vinci Code, which is based on serious research published in 1980s as The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail.  This source’s authors referred to fables about Jesus and Mary’s relationship, which I’m reliably told were then used as a deliberate advertising ploy for marketing purposes.
Consequently, that earlier book became a bestseller. The businessman who gave me The Invisible Hand (see Welcome) sold mail-order books and he told me his own copywriter had worked with HBHG authors and so he knew about its publisher’s sales slant.
Years later, I learned of another reference work by an expert on royal genealogy who claimed the fables were correct. But his analysis of scripture was unreliable, as I could demonstrate in his misquoting The Secret Gospel of Mark. Therefore, how could his claims hold water?  (Details on this blog at The Magdalene Legacy – a Critique.)

God-incidence:

I refer to coincidences that are more than serendipity (happy, fortuitous chance events) as ‘God-incidences’, for they seem to have been arranged with a clear purpose in mind. We may not always know the reason but there’s a distinct thread connecting two or more events that are closely related in time: an “aha” moment

Frequently I’m amazed by those which involve scripture and occur one day after another and sometimes even 3 or 4  consecutive days, and always from different sources. I liken God-incidence to completing a jigsaw puzzle and it seems the Lord is stressing the importance or relevance of something. So they get my full attention, as happened in the above account. (See main menu for fuller exposition.)