Inspiration, Art and
Prophetic Reality

“Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

(Vladimir Mayakovsky)

A: Introduction

Why choose this topic? Foundation issue is point of origin, rather than quality of “product.”

1. Inspiration in Popular Culture

∙ culture of the extreme “Whenever we remain without images, information seems dubious to us in our day… we now attribute visual characteristics to all information…the spectacle-orientated society (extreme sports, 20/20 cricket) makes a spectacle of itself (reality TV), transforming all into spectacle (spectacularization of food etc.) and paralyzing everything by this means… sight enables us to gloss over unpleasant reality by divorcing it from the order of truth… A screen of images is placed between me and my world – a circle of images that become so much truer than my own life that I cannot rid myself of them. Television (computer games/web etc.) is the supremely powerful drug. I end up living my existence before the very thing that eliminates me.” (J. Ellul, Humiliation of the Word, 1985)

∙ beauty and art (cf. propositional truth) still connect in post-modern society

∙ inspiration as stimulating the mind/emotions to a higher level of thinking/feeling e.g. dance culture; licence plate on red sports car “WA INSPIRE”

∙ key question in relation to inspiration is not feeling but origin e.g. Grammy’s: rappers “thank God” for award, then sing about hitting “their bitch”

∙ I can be ravaged by beauty (painting/music/dance etc.) and still be unchanged. This occurs when beauty is detached from meaning.

∙ subjugation to the material-economic

∙ hollowness of modern life, sterility of western civilization = absence of life inspiration

∙ authentic art is a matter of life e.g. cave paintings, indigenous art

∙ can truth be felt? Socrates bust UWA – truth found through beauty. Evangelistic services: modern – “What did I think about that?” post-modern “How did I feel about that?”

∙ new possibilities (and temptations) for Christian artist


2. Inspiration in the Church

. traditional (conservative Protestant)approach was to limit discussion to scripture: verbal inspiration

. this was to ensure that the Bible was infallible and inerrant

. the problem with this emphasis was that it shifted focus from Jesus to the Bible and so from the personal- relational to the rational- conceptual

. 2 Tim3:16 “all scripture is inspired by God”

. this does not offer a theory of inspiration but is a functional definition of scripture’s origin

. it does not limit inspiration to scripture or written/audible words

. literally, theopneustos should be translated “God-breathed” or “expired”

. makes it clear that the key issue is origin i.e. God derived rather than a certain “inspirational experience” behind scripture

. highlights confusion between inspiration and revelation: “Inspiration feeds on revelation and not vice-versa.” (Bernard Ramm)

. biblically, inspiration is God’s dreams “breathed out” not a matter of our dreams “breathed into”

. evidence that the latter is happening:

∙ contemporary Christian art (music as main force) subjugation to the material-economic

∙ Paul Colman: “I have a market (Christians disenfranchised from organised religion) because they don’t want syrupy, crappy music. They want something with some pain in it.” Of Christian pop, he says: “They want someone who looks like Brad Pitt, sounds like Pearl Jam and sings the words from the Bible… so we can have our own little pretend thing.”

∙ can I be ravaged by beauty (painting/music/dance etc.) and still be unchanged in the church? (JY PW example)

∙ observation – cloning in the church (Darlene; Brian H; Phil P; Bill H; Rick W. etc.);this is incompatible with the fullness of inspiration God desires

∙ test of the above hypotheses: to what degree are contemporary western Christians helpless against the demonic? (True Love Waits U.S.A.– 88% “failure rate” over a decade. Planet Shakers? Youth groups?)

∙ confusion over the nature of “the experience of inspiration”; an experience needs to be distinguished from a person (a relationship is more than an experience, as in marriage, AND the cross)

∙ leading Baptist pastor in U.S. :”We are about involving people in experiences. We need to share experiences together. The more experience my staff gets, the better language we have to communicate to our people. And the gospel is about communicating an experience to the people.”

∙ thesis-inspiration, which is at the root of all prophetic forms of communication, including art, is not a matter of a certain experience, even an experience of God, but of being/finding oneself located in the source of the experience, sharing in God’s experience

∙ key concept – “bisociation”, God’s experience encompasses bipolar opposites (hell and heaven) and this is the ground of “inspiration.”

B: God Breathes-Out Himself

∙ the foundation of an interpersonal inspirational experience must be located in the Godhead

∙ this is a position unique to a trinitarian (Christian) understanding of God

∙ in eternity, the Father breathes out his life to the Son in the Spirit who likewise returns his life to the Father Spirit Father           Son          Spirit

∙ since God is love (1 John 4:8), it is impossible that these movements which constitute the Godhead itself are in any way constrained (limited or limiting)

∙ we must suppose that the life of the Persons of the Father and the Son are “drawn out” towards each other as they mutually behold themselves in one another

∙ we could say, and all theological language is symbolic and metaphorical (hence an art form itself), the Father and the Son “inspire one another”

∙ this “inspiration” is not however something additional to the life of God (an experience for God as he already exists), it is his life

∙ the self-concept/image/awareness/esteem of each of the Persons in the Godhead is constituted by their being mutually embedded

∙ this is a particular sort of life; it is the total going forth from oneself for the sake of another Person

∙ this entails an absolute other-awareness in a relationship through pure self-forgetfulness (as such, there is no “naked ego” in God cf. Western civilisation)

∙ this is what it means for the Persons of the Godhead to glorify one another (John12:28; 16:14; 17:5, 24; Eph 1:17; 1 Pet 4:4)

∙ in this way, we may say that “inspiration”, glory and love are tied together as the highest values of meaning in the Godhead

C: Creation and Inspiration

∙ at the very beginning of creation the Spirit (Gen 1:2) and the Word (Gen 1:3) go forth from themselves for the sake of the Father (Gen 1:1). (This is not evident from the Genesis texts as such , but can be deduced from texts in the Old and New Testament e.g. Ps 33:6; 104:30; John 1:1-3; 1Cor 8:6; Heb 1:1-2; 11:3 etc.)

∙ this gives us insight into the eternal plan of God for creation (Isaiah 14:24ff ; 46:10; Lam 3:37-38; Matt 13:35; 25:34; Acts 3:21; 15:18; Rom 11:36; Eph 1:3-14; 3:9,11)

∙ from the perspective of the total framework of scripture, and the principle of analogy between God and humanity in his image (see later), we must suppose that the Father is moved (cf. 2 Pet1:20-21) to give the Son a bride (2 Cor 11:2; Eph5:32; Rev 19:7, 9; 21:9), the Son inspired to give the Father a family (John 14:6; Eph2:18-19; Heb2:10) and the first and second Persons of the trinity united to give the Spirit a temple (1 Cor 3:16;6:19; Eph 2:22)

∙ creation “leaps out” from God as bridging the gap between what is (only God) and what could be for God-and-others (Rev 21-22)

∙ the setting in which this relational goal of the divine love shall be reached is the material world

∙ the created universe is the concretisation of the love which is in God with respect to his glory ((Isaiah 6:3; 43:6-7; Hab2:14;Rev 21:11, 23)

∙ whilst the physical cosmos reflects the power and divinity of God (Ps 19:1-6; Rom 1:20), the sub-human could never adequately reveal his personhood

∙ the creation of humanity in the image (Gen1:26– 27; 9:6;Col3:10; James 3:9) and glory of God (Ps 8:6; 1 Cor 11:7) is a manifestation of the divine excellence

∙ for God it is a matter of inexpressible pleasure (Gen1:31; Prov8:22-31; cf. Job 38:7)

∙ creation can be conceived as a work of art, a picture God paints, a sculpture he crafts, a sound studio in which he speaks (Gen 2:7; Ps. 19:1; Ps 127:1; Prov 8; Jer 18:1-11; Rom 9:21)

∙ it is a sort of sensorium, a theatre of experience and metaphor or symbol that points beyond itself drawing out humanity to share in the nature of its Creator (2 Pet 1:4) who is Spirit (John4:24)

D: Creation, Inspiration and Fall

∙ the creation account of Genesis 2:7 (cf. Job 27:3; 33:4; Ps 139:13-14; Isa 42:5) is of a very intimate action of God upon “the man”

∙ the beauty of creation into which humanity was inserted is described in Genesis 2 as pure rapture

∙Edenmeans “delight” (Gen 2:8), the trees were “pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Gen 2:9), the gold there is “good”, as well as the precious stones (Gen2:12)

∙ the world’s sensory and aesthetic arrangement is designed to draw out from “the man” worship of God (Gen2:15is service as worship (Num 3:7-8;8:26; 18:5-6))

∙ yet even though “the man” has God and the garden there is aloneness and lack of fufillment; the creation of the animals for him is not a solution since as sub-human they cannot be his partner (Gen2:18-20)

God therefore, in an action of deep intimacy, takes out of “the man” one who truly corresponds to him, “woman” (Gen2:21-22)

∙ this remarkable action produces for Adam a beholding another being in one’s likeness and glory (Gen2:23; 1Cor 11:7), it draws out of Adam spontaneous praise and joy (Gen 2:23)

∙ this flows out of a consciousness of the difference between the goodness of what was and what has come to be-relational fulfilment.  Note: the blessing theme associated with creation (Gen1:22, 28; 2:3)

∙ humanity at its level has been given an insight into what the creation of a covenant partner means for God at his level

∙ the result of the creation of Adam and Eve is the ongoing drawing out of men and women towards one another in marriage (Gen2:24)

∙ the principal director, stage manager and actor in these scenes is God the Creator

∙ everything in this arrangement is designed to lead back to God; “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 2:17)

∙ “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is no exception to this principle, it is designed to lead to trust and obedience in God’s Word (Gen2:17)

∙ since the tree of knowledge is aesthetically and nutritionally indistinguishable from all the other trees (Gen 2:9; 3:6), the meaning of this one forbidden tree was not giving immediately by its sensory impact but by God’s own interpretation

∙ God interprets the symbol/metaphor of the eating of the tree of knowledge as death (Gen2:17); declining to eat means the sustenance of life

∙ the appearance of the serpent by its own volition strikes a discordant note in the story (Gen 3:1)

∙ the snake is someone who was essentially outside of humanity’s creation narrative, yet seeks to introduce a sovereign word to the first couple (Gen 3:1, 4-5)

∙ as a creature, it has no authority to draw out Adam and Eve in a direction other than that set by God their creator (false inspiration)

∙ this is especially true in relation to their identity; whether or not they are merely one of the creatures like himself or bearers of a higher destiny (viz. God-likeness)

∙ the Satanic claim (Rev 12:9) to articulate the metaphor of eating of the tree of knowledge as life ( = God likeness Gen 3:5) rather than death was an implicit claim to divine knowledge (cf. Isa 14:3; Ezek 28:2; 2 Thess 2:4) ), to be aware of the difference between humanity as it was and how it could be

∙ Adam should have been aware from the very nature of his creation by God and the entry of the Word into his heart that this being could not draw him out for his created destiny

∙ nevertheless, Eve and Adam are inspired by the attractiveness of what is proposed and the sensory impact of the tree God had made (Gen 3:6) cf. “the snake was the first salesman” (John Hick)

∙ eating of the tree is an act of God-forgetfulness; rejection of the Word of God and grief to the Spirit of God

∙ the immediate result is shame and guilt (Gen 3:7-8) = self-consciousness of relational failure in the absence of/mediation of God’s Word of pleasure

∙ humanity has become enslaved to its own ego-satisfaction cf. James3:14-16

∙ it is no longer capable of being drawn out by the created order to worship God in Spirit and in truth (John4:24), but is hopelessly (Eph2:12) in rebellion against God’s (symbolic and metaphorical) revelation in creation and forever drawn into idolatry (Ps 106:19-20); Rom1:18-23)

∙ all idols (conceptual or physical) are art forms that fail to point truly to the relationship between God and his creation

E: The Old Testament Prophets

∙ the Old Testament prophets do not have a string of supernatural experiences, but have inspired lives

∙ they are powerfully and painfully conscious in themselves of the difference between the state of things as they are and how they could/should be

∙ this state of “bisociation” is at the heart of all prophetic inspiration

∙ this is a matter of covenantal intimacy with God

∙ according to Jesus, Abel was the first prophet (Mat23:35; Luke11:51)

∙ this relates to his suffering and death, a theme common to all the prophets

∙ Hebrews (11:4) says that “by faith he offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s”

∙ from the context, it appears that Abel (unlike Cain) distinguished between the present state of affairs in which he lived i.e. in a fallen world, and that which was to come cf. Heb 11:1, 10, 13, 16 etc.

∙ this is what gave him hope and inspired him to present a sacrifice, an impoverishment in the present, as a sign of a hoped for future world

∙ Abraham is also called a prophet (Gen 20:7)

∙ the full meaning of this only comes with the incident to do with the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22)

∙ the incredible tension within this passage is between what God has given Abraham already in the gift of a son and a possible future without him

∙ according to Hebrews 11:19 Abraham possessed an implicit resurrection faith, even though this was outside of the scope of his current experience

∙ the character of the prophetic life and message (transformation) is implicit in the nature of their call

∙ every prophet (e.g. Abraham, Gen 15:3-3;17:18; Moses, Exod4:10-17; Gideon, Judges6:12-16; Isaiah, Isa 6:1-8; Jeremiah, Jer 1:4-8; Ezekiel, Ezek 3:14; Amos, Am 7:14-15) acutely i.e. painfully feels the difference between who they know themselves to be and who God calls them to be for him

∙ their call is a share in the tension of how they and their people are experienced by God

∙ the purpose of the prophetic ministry is always for the sake of the salvation of others, for God is wanting to give himself

∙ the prophet is a living metaphor or symbol of their message, they not only speak but live lives shaped by their service e.g. Isaiah’s children (Isa 7:3; 8:1-4); Jeremiah’s singleness (Jer 16:2); the death and mourning of Ezekiel’s wife (Ezek 24:16-25); Hosea’s adulterous marriage (Hos 1:2ff; 3:1ff)

∙ all prophetic forms, such as music (2 Ki3:11-16; 1 Chron 25:1, 7; 2 Chron 29:30), religious drama (1 Ki2:29-32; Isa 20:1ff; Jer 13:1-9; 16:15ff; 19; 28:10; 32:6ff; 43:1ff; 51:61-64; Ezek 4:1-3; 5:1-4), parable, riddle and psalm (Hos12:10,) are designed to move or shock Israel into line with God’s will

∙ the power of the prophetic message is that it is God’s voice (Isa1:20; 5:9;22:14; 40:5; Jer 46:13; Mic 4:4)

∙ the prophet is taken inside of God’s experience (Jer15:16) and so is constrained to hold God and humanity in the one thought cf. JY’S experience – eating the word, “I am satisfied with this people” simul justus et peccator; co-mingling of emotions such as joy, love, pain

∙ prophecy is “exegesis of existence from a divine perspective” (Heschel); “It concerns a stance and posture (or a hermeneutic) about the word of death and the word of life that can be brought to life in any context.” (Brueggemann)

∙ God keeps the prophets abreast of the truth by sharing his experience

∙ the prophet mediates the presence of God, not as some nebulous reality, but as an experienced tension between what is and what could be

∙ it is lament, complaint and sorrow for sin that distinguishes true from false prophets e.g. Ps 42:5; 60:1-3; 73:3ff; 116:10-11; Jer7:28-29; Lam; Ezek 19; 28:12-19 cf. Luke 19:41-44; Rev 18:1-24 (these factors remain a crucial test for inspiration today)

∙ unlike false prophets (Jer14:14;23:16, 26 29:23) the word of the prophet is never self-elicited (Num16:28; Jer 17:16; Isa 21:10 etc.)

∙ they are therefore not comfortable with their own experience of God

∙ nevertheless, the prophets understand that the worse situation that can face Israel (1 Sam 3:1; Amos8:11) and humanity (Jon 3:1-4:2) is that God does not speak

∙ “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!” (Hos 4:17) is the height of the divine-human pathos shared by the prophets i.e. there is no inspired communication for the lost

∙ foundationally, the prophets are people of extreme pathos e.g. Isa 21:2 ff; 22:4; Jer8:18-9:2;10:19; 23:9ff; 48:31-36; Ezek 21:6; Mic 1:8, because this is the heart of God e.g. Isa 15:5; 16:9,11; 42:14; 49:15; Jer 13:11; 14:11; 31:20; Ezek 6:9; Hos 11:8 etc.

∙ all the prophets must experience an intensification of what they sense (naturally or supernaturally) as the difference between the state of the world and God’s ordained future

∙ this cost is essential to the maturing of prophetic insight

∙ the theme of the “prophetic journey” opens up the story line of the entire scripture

∙ God is on a journey through history that is actualized in the divine-human experience through his communion with the prophets (Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David…..Jesus, Paul…us)

∙ the life experience of the prophetic artist is a constituent of the life of God

∙ inspired speech (visible, audible etc.) is more than a “performative word”, the prophet lives out the reality of rejection and restoration in his/her own life with the Word of God, this is how the kingdom of God comes cf. Jer 1:9-10

F: Jesus as the Inspiration of God

∙ the Old Testament prophets saw “from a distance” (Heb11:13)

∙ until the coming of the “first born of all creation” (Col1:15), the one “for whom” “all things were made” (Col1:16), the “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13), they could not be situated in the fullness of the tension between humanity as it is and as it will be in Christ (glory)

∙ as “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10), the completeness of inspiration had to await his coming

∙ if only God can reveal God, and only a human being can know God’s wrath and grace, the complete exegesis of humanity from a divine perspective required the incarnation

∙ God’s motivation for the coming of the Son as a human being is the unconditional love (John3:16) that has always embraced the chasm between humanity’s eternal glory and eternal shame (Matt 25:34, 41) cf. Eph 1:4; 1 Pet1:19-20; Rev 13:8

∙ for God the Word to become flesh means a personal immersion into the fullness of the fallen human condition (John1:14)

∙ it is a conscious movement from the riches of heaven to the poverty of a fallen earthly existence (2 Cor 8:9) (in order that this movement might be reversed)

∙ in taking up the “form of a slave” (Phil 2:7) Jesus reduced himself to humanity’s bondage to sin, evil powers and death (Rom 6:9; 8:3); identification approaches identity (Heb 2:17; 4:15)

∙ as the full representation of the heart of the Father (John1:18), Jesus’ is a fully “breathed out” human being (Matt1:20; Luke1:35)

∙ unlike all the prophets before him, he is therefore the subject of constant and complete (plenary) inspiration (John1:33;3:34)

∙ the messianic secret that lies behind the power of Jesus’ Spirit-inspired words and works (Matt12:28) is his mutual embrace of death and resurrection (John1:29; Mark 8:31;9:31;10:34)

∙ this comes out with particular poignancy at his baptism; what transpires here lays the foundation for his public ministry

∙ the Spirit descends upon Jesus to empower him as the Christ because he is the one designated by the Father as the sacrificial lamb and coming Messianic king (“beloved Son” = Gen 22:1; Ps 2:7) (Mark1:10-11)

∙ at his baptism he is called to prophetic ministry, Jesus now begins to carry the rejection of the cross in awareness of the promised resurrection e.g. how Ps 2:7 (cited at the baptism) is identified with Christ’s resurrection in Acts 13:33

∙ it is not because he is “God”, but in principle God –as-a-crucified-and-risen man, that Christ’s ministerial authority is unique (Mark1:22; John7:46)

∙ in this (death-resurrection) way the future is breaking into the present (the opening up of the heavens (Isa 64:1; Mark1:10) and the descent of the angels (Gen 28:12; John 1:51) is a constant spiritual feature of Jesus life)

∙ this is why Jesus does not preach himself but the coming kingdom of God(Mark1:15; 4:10, 26 etc.)

∙ he points away from himself to the Father (John 14:9), for his present experience is the internalisation of the Father’s love (John5:17;14:24; 17:8) and his future is in the Father’s hands

∙ his teaching on the redemptive justice of God (Luke4:18-21) and his miracles of restoration (Mark1:32-34; John 9:1-7 etc.) image the bridging between what now is and what will be when the kingdom of God fully comes

∙ he is moved to pray in the Spirit as he sees his disciples miracles as evidences of the inbreaking kingdom of God(Luke10:17– 22)

∙ the divine pathos for a suffering humanity draws out of Jesus compassion (Matt9:36; 14:14;15:32;20:34), mourning (Luke19:41-44; John11:33, 35, 38) and anger (Mark 3:5; John2:13-17)

∙ the climax of the drama of the Word as fallen flesh occurs at the cross-this is the divine embracing of the deepest distance between humanity’s actual condition and it’s God-given destiny

∙ the struggle in Gethsemane is not over a lack of inspiration as to the necessary course of events set before him – Jesus is not confused or “stuck for words”

∙ he speaks from his heart (Matt12:34) exactly the words that the Father has always desired to hear from humanity under the burden of his wrath

∙ Jesus is perfectly righteous (Heb 5:7-8) in confessing that the “cup” of the divine anger (Ps 75:8; Isa 51:17, 22; Jer 25:15-26; Hab 2:16; Zech 12:2 cf. Rev 14:10; 16:19) is utterly unbearable to the soul of a holy man, “my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death” (Mark14:34cf. Isa 53:4)


∙ as representative and inclusive humanity, the second and true Adam (Rom5:14; 1 Cor 15:45), it cannot be however that his pain is self-obsessive: “For man, anger brings pain, for God, anger is pain.” (Heschel) (Jer 44:7-8; Lam 3:33)

∙ in Gethsemane, Jesus begins to bear the unbearable anguish of God’s pain in afflicting humanity in judgement (…Black Death, Auschwitz, Dresden, Hiroshima, Rwanda, 9/11, tsunami 2004…)

∙ the sole reality that enables Jesus to endure this is the vision that God has given him of eternal joy (Heb 12:2)

∙ at the cross itself, Jesus cry of dereliction, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark15:34) signifies immersion (Ps 42:7; 69:1) in the divine pathos of anger and loss

∙ in the condition of our lostness (2 Cor5:21; Gal3:13) there can be no awareness of the Father’s experience, no inspiration, only hollowness, sterility, deadness, absence of life

∙ in bearing our guilt, Jesus must be unaware that he is the actualization of God’s love for fallen humanity, he must have no sense of being a true worshipper whose sacrifice brings pleasure to the Father (Ps 51:17; John4:24; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 5:2)

∙ yet the cry to God is itself a refusal to allow his self-consciousness to overwhelm him

∙ finally, when the pain of hell has been borne to extinction, Jesus enters into the deep surrender of assurance “Father into your hands…” (Luke 23:46)

∙ in the resurrection victory of Jesus is realized the content of the inspiration of the Father’s eternal goal for humanity; it is the restoration of the glory of God (Luke 24:26; Rom3:23; 6:4; Phil3:21; 1Cor15:43; 1 Pet1:11*)

∙ for this, everything has been worthwhile

∙ the “man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5) now has sovereign authority over all things (Matt 28:19. cf. John 17:2)

∙ the Father is so moved by the transformation in the humanity of Jesus that he gives him the Spirit to pour out on the community of faith (Acts2:33)

∙ Jesus receives revelation from the heart of the Father (Rev 1:1) to reveal himself as the future content of the cosmos (Eph4:10)

∙ the commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19) and to be “my witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) is to prophetically communicate all that God has achieved in the new creation that is in Jesus (2 Cor5:17; Gal6:14-15)

G: The Church as an Inspired Community

∙ as Jesus imaged God and projected by his ministry the world to come, so “in Christ” the church has the same cosmic purpose (Eph1:22;4:13)

∙ the community life of the early believers (Acts2:44-47;4: 32-37) reveals the difference between what is and what will be; the church is a “colony of heaven”

∙ as such, the whole church is a community of prophets (Acts2:17-18; 1 Cor14:31)

∙ all are called to be filled with the Spirit (Eph5:18– 20), which makes itself known in the abiding word of Christ (Col3:16-17)

∙ such utterances include “spiritual songs” (Eph5:19;Col3:16) and speaking and singing in tongues (Acts 2:5;10:46; 19:6; 1 Cor 14:2; 15)

∙ the word of inspiration takes as its locus the course of transformation that has been accomplished in the life of Christ, and his coming again (e.g. the Christological hymns Phil 2:6-11;Col1:15-20; 1Tim3:16; Heb 1:2b-4).

∙ the context proclamation of the scope of the work of Christ is not limited to “church meetings”

∙ Paul’s vision is for all humanity to know the plan of God effected in Christ through the “wisdom of God in its rich variety” (Eph 3:9-10 cf. 1 Pet4:10) cf. JY Argentina experience

∙ this means that the church will receive gifts and graces as broad and as deep (cf. Eph 3:18-19) as the infinite particularity of human need and situation

∙ unless the prophetic message is expressed in all possible forms and contexts how can humanity possibly receive the revelation that Jesus is “Lord of all” (Acts10:36; Rom 10:12)?

∙ the key to this explosion of expressiveness in scripture is that the New Testament church lives in radical tension between “this present evil age” (Gal 1:4) and “the age to come” (Matt12:32; Eph1:21; 1 Tim6:19; Heb 6:5 etc.)

∙ whatever the content of the hymns in the Philippian prison (Acts16:25) they were inspired by sharing in the struggles of Christ himself and had power to move the hand of God by way of a miraculous deliverance (Acts 16:26ff.) cf. Diana Thomas

∙ “if you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God is resting on you.” (1 Pet 4:14)

∙ all genuine apostolic witness flows from trial-and-deliverance (2 Cor 4:7-12; 6:4-10;11:21-29; Eph3:13; Phil3:10;Col1:24etc.)

∙ Paul must suffer many things to know the apostolic gospel (Acts9:16); John must be exiled on Patmos to receive Revelation (Rev 1:9)

∙ this was understood to be a participation in the rhythm of the life of Jesus, “death at work in us, but life in you” (2 Cor2:12; 1:8-10)

∙ this prophetic-apostolic integration into the suffering and victorious life of God is the gospel key to the “inspiration” of all scripture (Acts2:30; Eph 2:20; 1 Pet 1:10-11; 2 Pet1:19-21)

∙ “For the love of Christ constrains us, because we are convinced that one has died for all (died their death); therefore all have died (to their old existence) … therefore, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation…” (2 Cor5:14, 17)

∙ the apostle is filled with the Spirit and inspired to proclaim Christ in the gospel (2 Cor 5:18-21) because he knows that the three moods that make up Christian worship (liturgy)-1. struggle 2. assurance 3. victory are moods in God

∙ all who are called to hold “the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 1:2, 9; 6:9; 11:7;12:11etc.) are likewise called to prophesy of Christ in whatever ways the Spirit breathes through them

∙ “If your vision is less than God’s fullness then you will only God so far and then you will drop out.” (Austin Sparks) Note: this is the fullness of a crucified and resurrected person (Col1:19; 2:9)

H: Why a Lack of Prophetic Inspiration Today?

∙ idolatry-sensuousness, prosperity, popularity, respectability

∙ other things can “carry us away” (1 Cor 12:2)

∙ lack of concern for God’s passion – “What is God feeling here?” e.g. Is he hiding?

∙ self-concern rather than self-forgetfulness (Gal2:19-20)

∙ the subjectivism (emotionalism) of the church shows that the greatest Subject is not being experienced

∙ rejection of the struggle and pathos

∙ celebration without lament cf. “Blessed are those who mourn (now) because they will be comforted (at the End) ” (Matt 5:4)

∙ relevance/sharpness without depth

∙ “anointed flesh/ego” or “crucified/restored flesh/ego”?

∙ flesh becomes the Word

∙ “A painless message cannot ease the pain. A painless message cannot ease a burden. [Gal 6:2] A true messenger of the Lord begins every voyage at the Cross. Each and every piece brought forth from his mouth is marked by the Cross. In his heart you will find a Cross as in the Father’s.” (Lars Widerberg)

∙ “The Agony and the Ecstasy” (Michelangelo); house of pleasure (Gen 2), house of pain (Gen 3>), heaven

∙ church gatherings as dissociation rather than bisociation?

∙ to move within the sphere of God’s transforming vision (what is to what could be) is a risk of faith

∙ historicisation of Jesus e.g. The Passion of the Christ

∙GreatSouthLandof the Holy Spirit?

I: Every Christian Person a Prophetic Artist

∙ God’s revelation comes at the end of a long struggle whose end is only known to him

∙ “The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist.” (Ananda Coomaraswamy) This is true in what it affirms, but false in what it denies. In Christ, the artist as prophet is called to become, for God and others, a special kind of man/woman.

∙ all Spirit-inspired artistic works are “Rainbows for a Fallen World” that “dream the impossible dream” made possible in God alone

∙ such pieces do not merely reflect reality, past, present or future, earthly and heavenly, but are agents transforming life that it may share the new creation

∙ however small a work done in the name of Jesus it is part of that great work of God leading up to the transformation of all things in the Kingdom of God(Acts 1:6;3:21)

∙ “The artists of our era are not so much describing our world but creating a new one” (William Irwin Thompson) Which world?

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