The God Who Knits

By Jay Ferris, written December 1999

One of the manuscripts which I have been working on for the past 15 years or so is, “The Church as a New Creation”. One of the chapters is, “Looking For a Place To Live”. Jesus went away to prepare that place for us. It is in His Father’s house. We are that house, “… if we hold fast our courage and the hope in which we boast.” This is a house that is build with “living stones,” stones which are put in relationship to each other, “built up together in love.”

In practice, the love of God is not a response to a doctrine, but a heartfelt fruit of the Spirit. Where the structuring of the Body of Christ is concerned, this love is made particularly intense specifically toward those whom the Lord has given into our lives. Jesus is Lord of these relational gifts.

For me, the clearest picture of the sovereignty of God in this connection is found in I Samuel 18:1-3: “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

In this passage, it is clear, that the knitting of their souls was not a decision that they had made, but rather a condition of their hearts that God had done. There only part was to see it, understand it, and walk in it. The beautiful thing about this kind of love is that it is not a matter of human doing.  It is God’s doing, and hard to miss. It does not take a Ph.D. to feel it. 

In Romans 5:5, Paul tells us that this “…  hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Speaking about human doing, as represented by circumcision, Paul tells us in Galatians 5:6 that, “ … in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

I always like to “have an answer for the hope within me”, especially a Biblical answer, so I wanted to share this with you. You just might need it someday as one of the weapons of your warfare. It comes out of the same heavenly arsenal as the weapons Jesus used when He was in the wilderness, “It is written…”

Love!

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Table Manners – Part 2 – The Lord’s Supper


With that as introduction, (See Table Manners Part 1) I have some recently digested revelation bubbling up from within, and perhaps this might be the time and place to get it in writing. But first, a little more about manners.

When our children were young, I taught them the following table manners: “When you sit down to eat, check to see how many are at the table, then check to see how much food is available to eat, and don’t take more than your share. If you do, someone will go hungry.”

The Table of the Lord is much the same. Jesus said, My meat is to do the the will of Him who sent me.’ At least, some of the content of the Father’s will was for Jesus to share the words that His Father had given Him. And so it is for us.

Noting the more recently mentioned table manner: ‘don’t talk with your mouth full,’ I would like to share this recent revelation as it pertains to the Lord’s Supper. I trust that this is a safe place for what is coming. Because where the dry bones of Ezekiel are concerned, the first sign of life was the bones came into right relationship with one another, Ezekiel 37:7.

Right relationship with one another is what The Church is all about. That said, I would like to discuss the parable which best prefigures the relationship between The Church and Her Lord. I call this the sexual parable, and I believe it is the most powerful and fully loaded parable that God has included in both the “created things” (Romans 1:20) and His Word.

We have been created male and female in the image of something otherwise invisible about God. (If I need to support what I am saying with Biblical references, I am willing to do so, but for the present would rather leave that for later, if necessary.)

In the beginning, everything was “very good.” It was very good, that is, until the nature of the work required human reproduction, and then suddenly, something was “not good.” For the sake of the work of reproduction, the woman was taken out of the man. She was a “help meet for reproduction. Now please keep in mind that we are talking about a picture, or image, of a “great mystery,” namely “Christ and the Church,” Ephesians 5:31, 32. One of our great difficulties with this word picture/parable/image, is that we tend to be more religious than God, so we have a difficult time opening the package of our own sexuality, there to discover, “Christ and the Church.” In short, we are hung up on the plumbing.

(I really hope we can get beyond this plumbing, to The Truth it presents!)

The irreducible minimum meaning of ‘male and female’ is relationship. Human flesh, and Divine Spirit have this much in common; the byproduct of relationship is reproduction.

I would like to see if we can work our way backward from the ‘new birth’…

Depending on where we look in the Scripture, we are either “born from above,” still in “labor pains,” going through a kind of spiritual gestation, conceived of an “incorruptible seed,” “adopted,” “drawn by the Father,” and I believe we could find many more ways of describing where we have been, and might still be, in the whole reproductive process. (And that’s not counting the discussion of “menstruous rags,” and spiritual “circumcision.”) 

All of these word pictures have their spiritual counterpart, except that we have to get past the plumbing to really explore them.

There is a mystery to the truth that we are, at once, born from above, and yet at the same time waiting for the adoption as sons, namely the redemption of our bodies. In short – very short – it is finished, and yet it is not finished. And so we groan inwardly… waiting … seemingly caught up in a process of conception. In the flesh, we are conceived in a moment with all the DNA complete, but a birth in the Spirit is a different matter.

First of all, the seed by which we are born from above is a Word. And that Word, when in the flesh, called its words “Spirit.” “My words are Spirit,” Jesus said, John 6:63. In a very important sense then, our ears have become organs – even female organs of reproduction.

Now please allow me to press this just a little further. Peter tells us, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4. Note how it says, we have become partakers of “the divine nature.”  In other words, with the new birth comes a new nature, even a divine one.  The DNA of this divine nature is in the ‘Word,’ or ‘Seed’ (Sperma in the original) of God. It is in this context, that the ‘Seed’ imparts to us these “exceeding great and precious promises.”

Now here is a complication, not well pictured in human reproduction. In spiritual reproduction, the DNA is imparted over time by promise, and promises. This to say, we don’t get it all in a moment, but the nature of God continues to be imparted to us over time as we actively partake of His promises. Our fertility consists of “trusting He is faithful that promised,” Hebrews 10:23

Among other things, He promised that we were, or would be, “more than conquerors in Him who loved us.” But for that to become part of who we are, we must first embrace the process that, “for His sake we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” It is through this process that we, by the Spirit, become and receive what we have believed God for.

Now baptism acts out, or portrays, this invisible truth of our passage from one creation to another in the new birth. And the Lord’s Supper continues to portray this process.

About that, Jesus said that in the Last Supper, (the one in which we first saw the Passover fulfilled in Him) there was a cup that was a “new Covenant in His blood.” This is nothing less than a wedding cup, for a marriage covenant. He left it for us as a remembrance, but more than a remembrance, He left it for us as “food indeed, and drink indeed.” (I’m reminded that all food is ‘sacrificial life.’)

Paul, however, goes on to explain that if we eat and drink without discerning the Lord’s Body, it is not the Lord’s Supper. It becomes our own supper, and results in judgment, 1 Corinthians 11:17-33.

This is the revelation I received about the matter. Paul knew that it was their own supper, because their careless body language with one another spoke very clearly that they did not see Christ in each other. They were failing to discern the Body of Christ. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” but sometimes the earthen exterior is so offensive that we fail to discern the treasure within others — the Christ within. The Lord draws us into relationship with those that we might not have chosen in the flesh. If beyond the initial offense we can discover inside a treasure by faith — we have discerned the more abounding grace of the very great and precious promise made to that other member of the Body of Christ. They themselves are a revelation of the DNA of God. As we discern and embrace them, we also are impregnated, or further impregnated, with the very nature of God. When this happens, (and I should add this ought to be the “normal Christian Lord’s Supper,”) our discernment will become for us a female organ of reproduction. The Lord’s supper, indeed, becomes food for us, and drink for us. We are what we eat. Out of this transaction, and out of this participation in the wedding cup of the Lord, a oneness grows by which even the world can discern that Christ is in our midst. All of this leads to a growth of our our inward parts, and an increase of His Body, The Church.

To the extent that we are already born from above, it is clear that The Wedding Supper of the Lamb has already taken place, and is taking place, else-wise we are illegitimate children. Paul tells us that we have a mother, the new and free Jerusalem that comes down from God, “…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

All this to say, that we are called into an ongoing reproductive intimacy; not only that the world might be saved, but to be formed into the reality which is ours in Christ. Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Whatever the final form of the wedding feast might be, there is a wedding that is already ours in Him, and each one of us is a very important part of this feast.

  • By Jay Ferris

Picture credit Abigail Miller, Unsplash

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Table Manners – Part 1

By Jay Ferris ~

When I was young, we had something known as ‘manners,’ even ‘table manners.’ One of the manners was, ‘don’t talk with your mouth full.’

In light of the these recent weeks, it has occurred to me that what’s in our mouth, is not yet digested. Perhaps our discussion might be a little more fruitful if we were not slobbering undigested religion on each other, and spent more time digesting, and then sharing what is already ours by doing. Hopefully, not as a bragging contest, but in a way that brings out the best in one another. Of course, this would mean that we are, at least, as interested in the content of the other guy’s heart as we are in our own. Perhaps that’s one of the prerequisite manners of “speaking the truth in love”. I think it’s also called, “drawing one another out,” in preference to “shutting one another down.”

That shared, the revelation today has to do with digestion, that is, the process by which what is in our mouth — becomes what we are.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” – Romans 8:35-37

First notice this phrase: “Nay, in all these things…” What things? Trouble, distress, persecution. famine, nakedness, peril, sword, killed all day long, sheep for the slaughter, etc. It is, in fact, in all these kinds of things that we become “more than conquerors.” (We can have a mouth full of great and boasting words, but until we have lived through them, we don’t own them.)

Second, “more than a conqueror.” One way to understand it is that a conqueror is one who is successful at making others die. “More than a conqueror,” however, is one who is successful at dying for the sake of others!

Like the saying goes, ‘No pain, no gain.’

I’m not saying that I have been able to digest all of this yet, but I’m seriously working on it, and can honestly recommend it. Until we are able to embrace life’s suffering, we are bound to be defeated in every painful encounter. (And I am in fear and trembling as I think and say these things.)

To be continued…


 

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NEW RELEASE: A Letter to a “Church Planter”

The following is a NEW RELEASE post by Jay Ferris. It is taken from a letter he wrote to a popular “church planter.” In it, Jay takes issue with the mindset that God’s church can be planted by organizational methods. Instead, Jay lays out an argument that the way God does life is altogether different, and more in line with natural principles. 

This letter will probably appeal to a limited audience, but do pass it on if you know someone who might be interested in reading it.

InLove – Pamela 

Dear ________, 

Thank you for the book you recently sent; I enjoyed it very much. It was good to see so many fragments of light in one volume. I have several observations which struck me:

First, people who see everything through a “ministry” lens. This expresses a truth which I saw some years back, that professional clergy are often this way. When they see people, they see ministry instead of relationship. Or in other words, they see people as something to do, instead of someone to love.

And the next is somewhat related: the so-called necessity of church planters. I think based on personal experience, that there is another, less dependent-on-man, (if more laborious) approach to have instead. Once we see the church, not as something for us to do, but as a miraculous new creation of God — we realize that the old (physical) creation is a flannel board revealing to us truths about how God structures and nurtures life. That is what we are after, and what Jesus came to bring us, is it not? 

However, if the question is, “how does God structure and nurture new life?”, we have to look more closely at creation. He begins with one man, one woman, and puts the rest in order by reproduction. Surely an accomplished church planter would understand this much. That is, God begins with a family, and He “puts the solitary in these families,” (Psalm 68:6). He does not put them into brotherhoods. Brotherhoods are not designed for reproduction — families are. As long as reproduction is still required, the basic unit will be the family or “household.” When reproduction is no longer required, then we will all be brothers. Is that where God’s church is at? No more spiritual reproduction? I hope not!

As I see it, the identification of a group of believers as brothers is more a statement of faith than a present reality. For the present there is an authoritative dimension on the horizontal, that is not contained in our identification as brothers.

Again, the old creation reveals, (for anyone who will stop being religious long enough to take a look) that healthy parents raise children up in a healthy way. For example, they do not raise children to sit in pews and watch the parents do everything. Instead they teach their children how to take over the business of living, and if possible, go “farther up the mountain” than they have gone. We are not talking a long-distance kind of relationship here as to “authority,” but something that swims in the muck and mire of everyday relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have you in my living room as well as in my life, but if I can learn this lesson from the old creation, it is not as critically important to have (name withheld), “church planter,” in my household of faith.

Finally, another thing that I have come to see from Matthew 24:23-27, is that I do not need an “out-of-town christ.” Rather I need a revelation of the Christ who is in the midst of the believers where I live, including the weakest members, (one of whom may turn out to be myself). An out-of-town christ invariably divides the local body of believers. The sectarian and institutional, (I know, redundant) mindset is constantly using out-of-town christs to buttress their strongholds. It’s good for business. Out-of-town christs reinforce the institutional retardation of the saints so necessary for the financial support of interminable preachers. 

Enough said, lest I shoot myself in the foot.

For all of this, let me say once again, that I have the utmost appreciation for you and your insight concerning the church, and the centrality of Christ.

Yours in Him,

Jay

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Proclaim Liberty to the World!

This is a word about the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free.  This is the liberty to do whatever our hearts desire, because, Jesus is in us both to will and to do His good pleasure!  The catch is that this liberty is only in the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:17.

This is the liberty, which for over two thousand years has been trampled under foot of men. Instead of Jesus in the midst of even two or three, men have put themselves and their agendas in the midst.  This is a control issue.  Historically the gatherings of what has been calling itself “church” have been controlled by either men/“leadership” in the midst, or liturgy.  In either case, the liberty that rightly belongs to the saints has been replaced by the doing of external authority.  This is the authority that Jesus is presently bent on destroying, 1 Corinthians 15:24-26.  The authority of the Kingdom of God is an internal authority, an authority that sets us free, and one that will never pass away, for, as the Messiah proclaims: “He must reign for ever and ever!”

That said, it is past time that we refocus our purpose in the earth. Our purpose is the demonstration of the love of God – the first fruit of the Spirit. If we haven’t got that part right, we need to just stay home until we receive power from on high.  This is the power of the Holy Spirit – don’t leave home without IT!

By Jay Ferris, originally posted Dec. 12, 2011

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Fathers and Fatherhoods


Jesus has said, “Call no man father.” Some time later the Apostle Paul bowed his knee to the “… Father from whom every fatherhood in heaven and on earth derives it’s name.” Apparently there are some legitimate fatherhoods, both in heaven and on earth. If we cannot call them fathers, then what are we to make of them?

First of all we need to note that they derive their names from one Father, even The Heavenly Father. They are hoods of the Heavenly Father. They are not fathers, but they are hoods.

A father in the first instance is a seed planter. Fathers plant their own seeds. Fatherhoods may or may not plant the Seed of another Father, even the Seed of Christ. Beyond being seed planters, fathers are first of all validators. They provide or confirm validation that is if they are functional. They also provide discipline, guidance, love, wisdom, and a host of other supplies for the living of a fruitful life.

Where planting there own seed is concerned, all that ends at the border of the kingdom of God. In the kingdom of God we are to call no man father, because here we have only one Father, and it is the DNA of this one Father that we now have in Christ. All other fathers have been done away for us in Him. It is in Him that our new identity derives!

That said, there are those who are fatherhoods to us, and they function as fatherly ambassadors – authoritative  messengers of God the Father. They serve in their hoodcapacity at God’s pleasure, and for the duration of our need. They are ours forever including how much they ever meant to us.

Finally, when Paul wrote of his relationship with Timothy, “But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel,“ (Philippians 2:22 KJV) he was well aware that the authentic original was/is God the Father, and His Son Jesus. Paul and Timothy were the hooded proof of that first begotten Father Son relationship. They were the confirming witness!

Love!

By Jay Ferris, originally posted on May 12, 2012


 

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