BY: DALE THOMPSON and NATHAN BURTENSHAW
For the past 4 to 5 years I have been living the experience with Christ that has brought me into a close oneness with Christ Jesus. The heart of the Father is being revealed to me each and every day. For over 20 years I had built a ministry of works to have the Lord simply say, “I want you to re-think your life in Me.” Once I did, a transformation began to occur and my mind suddenly was refreshed as if a light that had burned dimly suddenly grew bright. Since this time I have ministered the Spirit of reconciliation to as many as would receive such a message. As you well know most oppose such a positive and uplifting message of Good News. Though there are some who are brought into this truth to reaffirm and become part of our group of witnesses who have bonded together world-wide. This email is for you to prove that Christ is changing lives, changing minds and changing our outlook as we live in the “now.” The following email letter came to me as a confirmation of the work that Father has started in me. As I previously mentioned, I have been involved in world wide ministry for a couple of decades and my sudden change to the way I approach the gospel shocked and offended many yet there are some whom the Lord is bringing out from among the majority who stand with us in Son-ship. This letter is a testimony to Father’s love and His heart.
I am writing to thank you for the teachings that you have been sending out. They have been a great blessing to me. Your emails have always contained the subject that Father has already been speaking to me about and have confirmed His word to my spirit and have often helped give me greater understanding. Permit me if I may to share a little with you, I hope that it may encourage you. Over the last 12 months or so God has been leading me on my own personal journey of discovery concerning my identity in Christ, our purpose as God’s elect and of His redemptive plan for all His creation. It all started one day while I was listening to Fist Full of Bees and the words “He didn’t die for me, He died AS me” from the song ‘Jesus In Me’ grabbed my attention. I had played that CD many times before but the words had not struck me like they did that day, and strike me they did! I meditated on that statement for a day and God revealed to me the full implications of Jesus dying AS me rather than just for me. My life will never be the same, for scriptures such as Gal. 2:20, 2 Cor. 5:17 and Col. 3:3 now took on a whole new significance. There is a big difference between ‘He died for me, I’ll live for Him’ and ‘He died AS me, I’ll live AS Him’ or ‘I have received Jesus in my life’ and ‘I have received Jesus AS my life.’ If He died for me, a pardon has been issued for my sin, and I can continue my life without condemnation. If He died as me, a death certificate has been issued in my name, I can no longer live my own life but must take on a new identity, which he has given me (His own)! I was well aware of the concept of the exchange that had taken place; His life for mine and vise versa, but it was really only that, a concept. Now by the revelation of God to my spirit and not just my mind, I am knowing and experiencing the reality of it. As I found myself being renewed in the spirit of my mind other scriptures began to take on a whole different meaning and I was beginning to see that God’s salvation was a lot bigger than I’d been led to believe. I asked the Lord if what I was seeing was in fact the truth and this was His reply; “Remember back to the time when the earth was flat.” Now history is not a strong point of mine so I had to research this a little and as I did this is what I found. Up to at least 1492 it was believed that the earth was flat. Everyone ‘knew’ that it was, because as far as they could see the earth appeared to be so. Besides, they had been taught for generations that the world was flat. It was believed that to come to the end of the world would be certain doom as you would be dragged over the edge and plummet over the face of the earth (sounds similar to what the church has preached all these centuries). Men that dared to challenge this ‘fact’ were accused of being of the occult and silenced and even burned at the stake! (Not much different than the reaction of the church to people who would challenge their beliefs!) If only they could have ascended high enough, they would have seen with their own eyes that the earth was in fact spherical. God was saying that just because we have always been taught one way, it doesn’t necessarily make it fact or the truth. He was telling me to set aside all that I had considered truth and allow Him to take me higher in the Spirit to be able to see the wider view (the truth), and oh what a glorious view! Again I asked the Lord to confirm to me in His Word the truth concerning salvation for all, He immediately led me to 1 Corinthians 5. This passage of scripture was dealing with a case of sexual sin and as I began to read it I was wondering why God had pointed me there. That was until verse 5, which states, “Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit SAVED on the day of the Lord.” Well there it was, my confirmation from the Word. Paul states to cast this person out from their midst so as not to be corrupted by him and to give him over Satan (and to his own depravation) for in the day of the Lord his spirit would be saved. I note the parallel between this directive and that of Christ’s in Matthew 5:29; “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away…” (Here Jesus was also dealing with sexual sin). And so I began to open my mind and my spirit to the possibility of universal salvation. I now see that this was a natural progression; for those God chooses to reveal Christ in, who are to grow up into Christ (the express image of God), it follows that they must have a correct view of who God is and what His nature is really like. The doctrines of eternal punishment or annihilation leave us with a twisted image of God and an inability to fully trust Him (a major issue in the lives of practically every Christian, though most would deny it). I found it interesting that in nearly thirty years of ‘church life’ I had never come across universalism. However on expressing my view on it, I found that the pastors of the local churches were all aware of it but never speak of it, probably hoping that it would go away and never challenge their own doctrines. Some people I have shared with have expressed a fear that to accept this doctrine of universal salvation would undermine their faith making all that they have believed useless. However it is my experience that to accept this message results not in an undermining of ones’ faith but rather an under-girding of that same faith. For the gospel of universal salvation is not a different gospel but rather a clearer more complete gospel benefiting of the view afforded by having ascended higher in the Spirit.
I have always been very passionate in expressing that the Christian faith is one of relationship with God, through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, to know the Father intimately as we are known by Him, and to grow up into maturity. It has nothing to do with ‘escaping hell’. If this is our motivation (even in part) for following Christ then we have completely missed the point. We are to come to the Father out of love for Him not out of a fear of death and hell. Yet I found that on hearing and accepting this message of ‘universal salvation’ that there was a weight lifted from me and I found a new freedom in the spirit. There was a ‘fear’ chain on my spirit that I was not even consciously aware of that had been broken off. Praise be to God!
A few months ago things had gotten interesting after I shared a little with a workmate who attends the local New Life church. I gave him something to read to get him thinking, which he promptly passed on to his pastor. Since then he has been told not to talk to me about anything spiritual. My views have been publicly denounced at their church and a pamphlet has been handed out to the congregation detailing the ‘heresy’ I am supposedly trying to convert people to. He has accused me of all sorts of ridiculous teachings, such that I struggle to see how the love of God can reside in him as to come to such conclusions. And in all this the pastor of that church has not had the guts to approach me at all. Apparently he was just protecting his flock (he should realize that the flock is not his but God’s). It is interesting how the mind controlled by fear also reacts in fear when that control is challenged. The pastor of the church that I have been attending by contrast has been very accepting and supportive of me, seeing the fruit of the Spirit evident in my life, he has sought to try and understand what it is I am saying… although he asks if there is no eternal punishment/torment and all are saved;- what about judgment? Surely, he asks, there must be judgment and retribution for sin? Of course there is judgment, but as to punishment for sin Jesus paid the full penalty not just for our sin but also for the sin of the whole world! (1 John 2:2) Just before Jesus gave up His Spirit when on the cross he declared “It is finished”. Everything that Jesus came to achieve was completed, nothing was left undone. John declared of Jesus “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the SIN of the world.” John 1:29 Jesus said that He “came to seek and to SAVE that which was lost” Luke 19:10 and “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to SAVE the world through Him.” John 3:17… and again “For I did not come to judge the world, but to SAVE it.“ John 12:47 This was the purpose for which Jesus came into the world; to do away with sin and save the world and as He Himself declared IT IS FINISHED, it has been completed. As best as I can see we will be judged according to the standard; the standard is Christ Jesus. We will be judged as to how we measure up to Christ and the judgment will strip away everything that is not of Christ and reproduce Christ in us until we do conform to the standard.
A word that God gave me to share in church last weekend; (condensed version)
Romans 5: 8-10 – “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!”
It is often said that we have been saved through Christ’s death. There is truth in that, however we can see in Romans 5 that it is through Christ’s LIFE that we are much more saved! Christ’s death bought us justification by His blood and reconciliation to God and that when we were still his enemies (so if reconciliation to God comes when we are still His enemies, it follows that God HAS reconciled ALL to himself). Jesus death bought reconciliation that is we have been saved from the PENALTY OF SIN that was otherwise due to us. Jesus’ life on the other hand gives us VICTORY OVER SIN. The salvation Christ’s death gives us is a free gift – we have nothing to do in it – we cannot earn it. The salvation that comes through Jesus life has a cost that we must pay in order to receive. It is only by the surrender of our own lives and taking up of His life that it can be achieved. Jesus’ death is only the beginning, it is not the end but the means to the end. His life is the end, when His life is fully manifested in us it is the end to sin, the end to the carnal man, the end to the struggle so many Christians wrestle with all their lives. The abundant, victorious, overcoming life of Christ is true salvation for which we reap the benefits now and in the coming ages. If we stop at Christ’s death it is really of little benefit to us now. God requires of us our lives. Luke 14:26 – Jesus says “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” … v. 33 “in the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” This is the cost of following Jesus, our entire life. Jesus is not telling us to hate our family, He is demonstrating the extent to which we must give up our lives – even our very identity. We must enter fully into Christ’s death and die to ourselves so we can enter also into His resurrection and be raised up into His life. Jesus said Matthew 7:13 “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” And again “Many are called but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14 Many is ALL for God “commands ALL people everywhere to repent.” Acts 17:30 All are reconciled but only a few (chosen) will pay the cost and go on to be Christ’s true disciples. In this age we have the choice whether to give Him our life or keep it for ourselves, in the coming age there will no longer be that choice and our lives will be taken from us. Not for annihilation but for transformation! That is what the lake of fire is all about. It is where the carnal man is destroyed until only the spiritual man remains refined by the fire into the image of Christ. For those of us who give up our lives now and take on the new life of Christ, who allow the fire of God to burn in us, who are overcoming and are becoming the manifestation of the Sons of God, the lake of fire is harmless because it’s work is already being completed in us.
Your brother in Christ,
Nathan Burtenshaw firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. I was wondering at what point in your song writing did you start to reflect your universal salvation beliefs. Just interested to know as some songs that I used to have difficulty working out now make much more sense.
FURTHER TESTIMONY [Dale Thompson and Nathan Burtenshaw] May 2005 1