Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Church History

I have been reading The Story of Christianity by Justo L Gonzalez. It is about 40 years since I studied Church History formally, so I am enjoying the refresher.

I am currently up to the Arian Controversy that dominated much of the 4th century. I remembered this as a dispute about the divinity of Jesus, but Gonzalez brings out some interesting aspects of the issue.

The state soon began to use its power to force theological agreement upon Christians. Many of the dissident views that were thus crushed may indeed have threatened the grey core of the Christian message. Had it not been for imperial intervention, the issues would probably have been settled, as in earlier times, through long debate, and a consensus would eventually have been reached. But there were many rulers who did not wish to see such prolonged and indecisive controversies in the church, and who therefore be simply decided, on imperial authority, who was right and who should be silenced. As a result, many of those involved in controversy, rather than seeking to convince their opponents or the rest of the church sought to convince the emperors. Eventually, theological debate was eclipsed by political intrigue (p.182).
Unfortunately, because successive emperors took different sides, the Arian controversy dragged on through of the century.

Gonzalez also explains that the controversy was partly a social/political class issue.

For fifty years, most of the emperors were embraced the Arian position... What was at stake was much more than idle speculation. Ultimately the issue was, can Gold truly be present in a carpenter executed by the empire as a criminal, or is God more like the emperor on his throne? One should not wonder, then, that so many emperors preferred the Arian view. Eventually a compromise was reached whereby the carpenter was declared to be truly divine, but was now represented much more often by the exalted Pantokrator—the exalted emperor sitting on a throne and ruling the entire world—than as a carpenter (p.217).
I was intrigued that the thinkers who pushed the church towards the truth often came from the edge of the church, mostly from within the monastic movement. Most were made bishops, but it was against their will. They were often persecuted and had to flee the centres of religious power for safety.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Political Theology

The Torah did not give Israel a taxpayer-funded military or taxpayer-funded executive branch. It did not provide a group of professional politicians to make laws, because God had already given perfect laws. Judges could give verdicts, but there were no taxpayer-funded police to enforce them.

These gaps rip the guts out of most modern political theologies. When reading the scriptures, we need to take off our political glasses and stop assuming all our political junk is there. We would be amazed at what God had in mind.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Rulers

Many Christians interpret Romans as saying the state is a servant (minister) of God. They agree that it can be rebellious, but they do not give any criteria for distinguishing between a servant state and a rebellious state. Unfortunately, there are no such criteria in the New Testament. It would be a stretch to extract them from the Sermon on the Mount.

Deut 17:14-20 gives some rules for kings, but because kings are sub-optimal (1 Sam 8), it does not really give much detail. The reason is that God intended a different social order, based on law and judges, not kings and political power. Paul was actually pointing back to that. (The prophets point out some things that are wrong, but they do not say what is allowable, except to point to the Torah.)

The problem with the usual interpretation of Romans 13 (and it is mostly used as a slogan) is that if a ruler has a ministry from God, he must have freedom to exercise their ministry. Admitting that political rulers are servants of God actually opens a really wide door.

We need a political theory that is consistent with on Romans 12, that does not try to do good using evil. I have done this in Government of God.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tax Cuts

Bill Bonner has some interesting comments on the US tax cuts.

Here’s our simplified guide to tax reform:
  • The poor have no money.
  • The middle class has no lobbyists.
  • The rich have no desire to pay more.
But why should giving the rich more money stimulate output? Are they having trouble making ends meet? Do they lack capital?

According to a new report by Credit Suisse, the richest 1% of the world’s population already controls half of its total wealth. They have plenty of spending money; giving them more is not going to appreciably increase consumption. And if they need more money, they can borrow at the lowest rates in history.

We’ve heard of no business in recent American history that failed… or failed to expand… because it lacked capital. On the other hand, thousands of businesses are failing because they lack customers.

Which brings us to the rest of the population – the part that isn’t rich… and has no lobbyists… the part that must earn and consume to make an economy run.

U.S. household debt hit a record of $13 trillion last quarter.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Benefit of the Covenant with Moses (4) Evil Powers

The sole disadvantage of the Law of Moses was that it empowered the spiritual powers of evil. The law strengthened Satan who accuses people before God, because the law defined transgression and specified the curses associated with it. This made it easier for him to accuse God’s people transgression. The powers of evil demanded the right to enforce the curses of the law on everyone who transgressed the law.

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions (Gal 3:19).
Prior to the giving of the law through Moses, transgression was undefined. The law specified the behaviour that God required from the people that he called. The law also spelt out in detail the consequences of transgression.

The spiritual powers of evil gained authority to inflict the curses of the law on sinners. They demanded the right to shed blood for sin. He demanded death for all sinners.

The law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression (Rom 4:15).
Once the law of the covenant was in place, the spiritual powers of evil demanded the right to enforce the curses of the law against the children of Israel whenever they transgressed the law. A spirit called Wrath was often the leader of this activity. The giving of the law with curses specified for disobedience increased the power of Wrath and the destroying angels working with him.

More in Kingdom Authority

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Benefit of the Covenant with Moses (3) The World

The Law of Moses restrained personal and social evil by providing a way for dealing with crime and settling disputes between people. The laws specified two types of crime. People caught stealing were required to make three- or fourfold restitution. A person guilty of assaulting another was required to pay financial compensation proportional to the harm done to their victims. This compensated the victims of crime and made stealing unattractive. Some people would still steal, but most would not run the risk.

The laws against these crimes were to be enforced by the local judges accepted within each community. These judges would emerge into their role when their wisdom was recognised within their families and tribes. Judges functioning within their local communities were expected to apply God’s law to personal and social disputes.

The law provided a way for large communities of people to live in peace with each other. The law could not eliminate sin, but it removed the worst effects of sin. If God’s laws had been applied, they would have constrained the worst evil in Israel.

God intended Israel to be a light to the nations. If the Israelites had submitted to his law, they would have experienced great blessing. The surrounding nations would see the blessing, and choose to adopt God’s law to get some blessing for themselves.

Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today (Deut 4:6-8)?
The nations would see the blessing that comes from submitting to God and his law. Even if they would not accept God, they would try to get the benefits that came from adopting his law.

Unfortunately, Israel rejected God’s authority and followed the ways of the nations. They lost their blessing and never demonstrated the benefits of God’s law to the nations. Their light was lost. The surrounding nations saw Israel under a curse, so they wanted to have nothing to do with its God.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Benefit of the Covenant with Moses (2) Israel

The children of Israel gained spiritual protection. The Law of Moses contained a set of sacrifices for dealing with human sin. These sacrifices did not make people righteous before God, as only the cross of Jesus could achieve such a difficult task. However, the sacrifices specified by Moses were sufficient to satisfy God until Jesus came, because they pointed to his perfect sacrifice. Sinful people could not change their hearts, but they could make peace with God by offering the sacrifices for sin. This would allow the children of Israel to keep their peace with God, even though they would often sin.

The sacrifices were an early form of spiritual protection, because they freed people from the guilt of sin (Heb 9:13). Evil spirits could not attack a person whose sin had been cleansed by a sacrifice, so the tabernacle sacrifices reduced their vulnerability to demonic attacks. They were not a permanent solution to sin, as only Jesus could provide that, but they did free the people from the guilt of sin, which protected them from demons.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Benefit of the Covenant with Moses (1)

The covenant God made with Moses on Mt Sinai marked a big authority shift on earth. Everyone was affected.

God
God regained some of the authority on earth that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned.

The Mosaic covenant gave God authority over the land of Canaan. The Israelites were free to reject his authority at any time but the consequences were different. The covenant with Adam and Eve was unconditional, which gave humans absolute authority on earth. If they chose to rebel against God, they could shut him out and he would lose his authority on the earth.

The covenant with Moses was conditional. It offered similar blessings, but human authority was significantly constrained. Under this covenant, the Israelites could still reject God’s authority, but they could not shut him out of the land. Rather, the covenant specified that if they rebelled against God, they would be ejected from the land instead of him.

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess (Deut 30:17-18).
Under the covenant with Adam and Eve, God could be exiled from the earth. Under the covenant with Moses, the Israelites could be exiled, but God’s authority in the land would remain.

The covenant gave God a place on earth under his authority where his will could be done. For the first time in history, he had authority over a piece of land where he was free to operate, and humans could not push him out.

God had worked away for more than 2000 years to get this foothold of authority on earth. He gained authority over a small land situated in the middle of some powerful empires. This was not perfect. He could not be certain that his people would obey him. He knew they would rebel, but he could deal with that.

With land and a people, God could start some serious work on earth. His goal was to expand out into the rest of the earth. The Promised Land would be a beachhead from which he could launch his redeeming work to the world.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mercy Seat

In Romans 3:25, Paul says that Jesus became “a mercy seat by faith in his blood”. Commentators have argued about whether the expression mercy seat should be translated as expiation or propitiation without reaching agreement. I believe that it would be more sensible to take the words as are, and assume that Paul meant what he said. He was saying that Jesus became our “mercy seat”.

Clearly Paul was referring the lid of the covenant box that sat within the holy of holies in the tabernacle. The lid of the covenant box was made of gold. In English Bibles, it has been called the “mercy seat”. The reason is that the Hebrew word “kapporeth” which means “lid” or “covering” comes from a word meaning “cover” or “pardon”. Therefore, a good translation would be “lid of grace”. So mercy seat is quite close.

The priests went into the tabernacle via the bronze altar. It was a place where blood sacrifices were offered. This blood was offered to satisfy the spiritual powers of evil who demanded that the full penalty of the law be implemented for sin. The accuser demands the shedding of blood as a penalty for sin.

Paul refers to faith in Jesus blood. He was explaining that the powers of evil who accuse and demand our blood have to be satisfied with his blood, so their power to accuse us and demand punishment is broken.

The covenant box was in the holy place, which is God’s place. Except for a little dabbed around once a year, there was no blood in the holy place, because God does not demand blood. He is gracious. Incense was placed on the gold altar in the holy place every day, because all God requires a pleasant aroma of love.

Paul says that Jesus became the mercy seat of covenant box. It symbolises grace. This box contained the two tablets of the covenant, Aaron's rod and a pot of manna. The covenant was a free gift, not earned. The manna in the box was free gift to people who did not deserve it.

Therefore, the covenant box represents grace freely given. The mercy seat or lid of grace represents grace and forgiveness. It the place where God came and spoke, because he wiped out the effects of sin. He forgives us because he loves us. Our faith in the blood of Jesus allows him to become our mercy seat. In the new covenant, Jesus becomes the source of our forgiveness and grace from God. He enables us to hear God speak.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Government of God

The following are some of the topics covered in my book called Government of God.

  • the nature of authority
  • the nature of the kingdom of God
  • perfect government
  • the structure of society
  • kingdom communities
  • source of law
  • applying the law
  • crime and restoration
  • relieving with hardship and poverty
  • defending the community from attack
  • taxation
  • voluntary financing of community services

Friday, November 17, 2017

Finances - A Paradigm Shift

Back in 2010, while attending a conference on Christian Economics, I met Gottfried Hetzer. He has been a missionary in Namibia and a business leader in Germany. He struck me as a man of integrity who has allowed God to do a deep work in his life.

A couple of years after I met him, he published a book called Finances - A Paradigm Shift. This is one of the best books on finance and money that I have ever read.

Part 6 of the book is called Kingdom Approach. Gottfried deals with topics like bribery, corruption, integrity, motivation, partnerships, reliability, retirement. Most books do not cover these issues.

I recommend this book to every follower of Jesus, who wants a better understanding of the challenges of finance.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Spiritual Battle (3) Spiritual Forces of Wickedness

The fourth term that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:12 is literally "spirituals of wickedness" (pneumatikos pomeria). To makes sense, this expression needs a noun. Either “forces” or “powers” can be used. I mostly refer to the spiritual powers of evil, but spiritual forces of wickedness is also fine. These are all the bad spirits that attack humans in various ways. They are controlled by the Cosmos Dominators or the political-spirits and government-spirits that control their nation or city.

The spiritual forces of wickedness were created to listen and obey, so they just do what they are told by the closest legitimate authority. They do not have the capability to evaluate plans, or make moral assessments, so they just implement any suggestion that is given to them. Unlike humans, they do not know the difference between good and evil. All they know is the difference between legitimate authority and illegitimate authority. They do whatever a voice of authority tells them to do.

These follower spirits are not very innovative. They were created to be doers, so they often do the same thing over and over again, until an authority tells them to do something different. Unlike humans, who are made in the image of God, and have inherited his creativity, they just do what they have always done.

Bad spirits find it hard to come up with new ways to do things. They are not creative because they were created to follow instructions and obey authority. If they are told to harass a person, an impure spirit just keeps on doing it until someone with authority tells them to do something different. For example, a spirit of fear is not different from other spirits, it is just a spirit that has been told to do fear. If it gets cast out of one person, it just finds another and keeps on creating fear in them.

Casting out Bad Spirits
These are the spirits that Christians mostly encounter. When the cast out impure spirits, they often do not know where to send them. Some command them to go to hell, but others are uneasy about this because Jesus did not tell us to do it.

Jesus never told impure spirits where to go. He simply commanded them to leave the person they were harassing. In the case of the Gadarene man, he allowed a legion of spirits to go into a herd of pigs. The bible does not say where they went after the pigs drowned (Mark 5:11-13). I presume that they stayed in the same area.

When impure spirits are cast out, they wander around looking for a voice of authority to tell them what to do. They are followers, so they become confused if no one tells them what to do.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it (Luke 11:24).
In most situations, the area will be controlled by a political-spirit or government-spirit. I presume this spirit tells the impure spirit what to do. It will usually send it to harass another person in a similar way.

Jesus could not do anything different, as the political-spirits and government-spirits working through the Roman and Jewish authorities still dominated the region. Once an impure spirit left his presence, it fell under their authority again.

The same is true now. If we cast out a spirit now, it comes under the authority of the political-spirit that controls the region where we live

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Spiritual Battle (2) Political-Spirits and Government-Spirits

The first two Greek words that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:12 are “arche” and “exousia”. These are words that are associated with politics and government. To make this clear, I translate them as political-spirits and government-spirits. These spirits are traditionally called “principalities and powers”, but political-spirit and government-spirit are more informative names.

Although the Cosmos Dominators were defeated by the cross, they maintained their authority on earth by using political-spirits and government-spirits to control political systems, governments and empires on earth. A political-spirit or government-spirit in the spiritual realms controls every town, city, nation and region on earth. Their authority on earth is perpetuated by a hierarchy of power.

  • Political-spirits and government-spirits in the spiritual realms control human political powers, such as kings, emperors and other political leaders. The people may change over time, but the spiritual powers remain in control.

  • Kings and political leaders have authority over large groups of people, so this gives political-spirits and government-spirits immense authority on earth.

  • Most people look to their political leaders to solve the problems that disturb their lives, so they mostly submit to them. They are unwittingly submitting to the political-spirits and government-spirits that control their political leaders. They should be looking to the Kingdom of God for their salvation, and to the Jesus as their king.

  • Political leaders and kings use military force and political coercion to control their people. This gives political-spirits and government-spirits their power an point of entrance to control them.

This hierarchy of power allows the big controlling spirits to exercise authority on earth, despite their defeat by Jesus.

Paul used the Greek words “arche” and “exousia” to describe spiritual powers (Eph 3:10; 6:12). The same words are used in the New Testament for government agencies on earth. Luke and Paul both referred to Roman governors and magistrates as “arche” and “exousia” (Luke 12:11; 20:20; Tit 3:1). This confirms the link between political-spirits and government-spirits and human government.

The Prince of Persia is a government-spirit that controlled the Persian empire during the time of Daniel (Dan 10:13). The Prince of Greece is another political-spirit operating at that time (Dan 10:21). The King of the South and the King of the North are government-spirits that will arise in the future (Dan 11).

Most modern nations and cities are controlled by a government-spirit or political-spirit. They gain control because people trust in political power for their salvation. The greater the faith in political power and government, the stronger the political-spirits and government-spirits will be.

The political-spirits and government-spirits controlling a city, region or nation rule over all the spirits living in the city, region or nation they control. They direct them where to go and what to do. The follower spirits listen and obey the commands of the political-spirit that controls the area that they are operating in.

According to the New Testament, Jesus has been raised up in the spiritual realms, far above all political-spirits and government-spirits (Eph 1:21; Col 2:10). He will use his church to demonstrate his wisdom to them (Eph 3:10). They will be fully defeated at the end of the age (1 Cor 15:24).

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Spiritual Battle (1) Cosmos Dominators

At the end of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the nature of our spiritual battle.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the spiritual realms (Eph 6:12).
I dislike the common translation of this verse because the terms used do not mean much in the modern world.

It is common for people to talk of “principalities and powers”, but it is not clear what that means. Some people use the term to describe worldly political systems, but that does not make sense, as Paul is referring to spiritual realities. Even for those who understand the spiritual side of life, these terms do not make sense, because we do not have principalities anymore.

In medieval Europe, a principality was a small territory ruled by a prince. They have now all been absorbed into nation-states, so principality is not a helpful word.

Ruler is another anachronistic word that is not used much these days. Power is too vague to be useful. Greek has a different word “dunamis”, which is used for raw power. This word is applied to the force used by the spiritual powers of evil in 1 Cor 15:24.

Cosmos Dominators
The third expression that Paul uses is rulers of darkness. The Greek word is “kosmoskrator”. To capture the sense of this word, I prefer the expression “Cosmos Dominators of this Darkness”. These are the really big spirits that rebelled against God and rule armies of follower spirits. These archangels want to control the entire cosmos.

Archangels (arche = ruling; angelos = messenger) are big ruling angels/spirits with the ability to instruct other angels. Michael is the name of one who serves God (Jude 1:9). I am not sure why God needed them, because the Holy Spirit can speak to any angel and tell it God’s will. I presume that he needed archangels to control large groups of angels working together on tasks needing concentrated power.

A big spirit called Accuser (satan) tricked Adam and Eve into disobeying God. He is also called Slanderer (devil) because he slanders God’s name. I do not like the names satan and devil, because it makes this spirit seem greater than he is. I prefer to name him according to his character. He gets no glory from these words.

Once Adam and Eve had sinned, Accuser and a few of his powerful mates could claim legitimate authority over the earth. The others took on new roles as Death, Wrath, Destruction, Beast, and False Prophet. These big spirits worked together, but they also struggled with each other for power.

Most of the other spirits that stopped serving God are listeners and followers, so they obey anyone with authority over the place where they are operating. They naturally obeyed the big spirits who had seized authority on earth.

About a third of the angels were operating on earth at the time of the rebellion. They were waiting for Adam and Eve to give them instructions to care for the earth. When the archangels who had rebelled began to give them instructions, they obeyed because that is what they were created to do. They recognise authority, but they cannot distinguish between good and evil. The big rebellious angels had gained legitimate authority on earth, so they naturally obeyed them.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Marrying a Prophetess

A correspondent in Africa asked me the follow question.

Can a prophet marry a prophetess?
What are the advantages and disadvantages.
Here is my answer.

I see no reason why a prophet cannot marry a prophetess.

There is one danger: that you get into a prophetic competition with each other, to see who has the most powerful ministry. It is really important that you love and care for your wife. Are you willing to lay down some of your ministry so that your wife's ministry may grow. If you are assuming that having a prophetess as your wife will build you ministry, you might have the wrong attitude. A prophetess might be better off married to a man who will cherish, guard and protect her ministry.

When to people marry in God, they become one. That means that a woman who marries a prophet, effectively becomes a prophetess, because she and her husband are one. She shares in his ministry. That means that a prophet does not need to marry a prophetess to get one.

God often puts together two people who complement each other. He often gives a prophet a wife with a gentle and merciful spirit. If he loves her, this will act as a restraint on the harshness that can sometimes corrupt a prophet beginning in their ministry. A prophet might be better with a wife, who tempers his ministry for good. Mercy triumphs over justice.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Done

I have just completed a long series of posts called Reconciling the Spiritual Powers of Evil. As I have worked on the series my understanding has developed, so I have rewritten some of the earlier posts to clarify some issues that were not clear. The fully revised posts can be read in one article at Reconciling the Spiritual Powers of Evil.

I have also realised that the modern English translations of Ephesians 6:12 are not very informative, because they use anachronistic terms like “principality” and vague terms like “powers”. This led me to dig into this passage and try and get a better understanding of what it is meant by “principalities and powers”.

I am a bit tired of writing about evil, because it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I want followers of Jesus to know what they are up against, and how God will defeat them. Therefore, I am going to do three more posts next week called Spiritual Battle in which I set out what I have learned. This will explain why I am changing the terms that I use to describe the spiritual powers of evil.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Reconciling SPEs (12) Abyss and Lake of Fire

The scriptures refer to two different places where bad spirits are sent.

  • The Abyss is a spiritual holding pen where spirits are kept out of action for a period of time.

  • The Lake of Fire is a place of final destruction where bad spirits lose their existence (Rev 20:14).

The order of their use is as follows.
  • A number of bad angels were locked up in the abyss after the flood in Noah’s time (1 Pet 3:19-20;2 Pet 2:4). They were led by a spirit called Destroyer

  • Destroyer and his followers are released from the Abyss during the Time of Distress at the end of the Times of the Gentiles. They cause the distress.

  • At the end of the Time of Distress and after the Fulness of the Jews, spirits called Beast and False Prophet are placed in the Lake of Fire and cease to exist (Rev 19:20). The ends dominance through political power forever.

  • At the same time, Satan the Accuser is locked up in the Abyss (Rev 20:2). He remains powerless during the Times of the Kingdom, because followers of Jesus claim the power his blood to cover their sin. This leaves the accuser powerless.

  • At the end of the Kingdom age, Satan is released from the Abyss for a short season (Rev 20:7). He gathers some spiritual followers and encourages them to rebel against God again. This last attempt fails and he is quickly defeated.

  • Following the last judgment, Death and Hades are destroyed in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14). They are active at the beginning the Times of Distress (Rev 6:8). They had killed millions of people with wars, famines and plagues.

  • Leading a rebellion, despite being given a second chance, proves that Satan is incorrigible. He is placed in the lake of fire and his existence ceases.

It seems that the only bad spirits that have to be destroyed, because they not reconcilable are Beast, False Prophet, Death, Hades and Satan. I presume that the remainder were reconciled to God and serve him into eternity.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Reconciling SPEs (11) Final Defeat

Only a few really evil spiritual powers will persist with evil, but they will be so outnumbered that they become powerless and feeble. Incorrigible spirits like Beast, False Prophet, Wrath, Death, Destruction and Satan will refuse to be reconciled with God and will continue to oppose him. They will be captured and thrown into the lake of fire, which represents total destruction. It is the destination of the last few spirits that hold out against God.

The powerful ruling spirits are bound and lose their authority on earth. The ordinary spirits recognise that it is gone. They stop listening to them because they are created to only listen to a voice with authority. Once Beast and False Prophet, and other big spirits are defeated, the rebellion collapses, because the other spirits no longer have a voice of authority to obey. They become confused and do nothing because there is no voice of evil to obey.

The blood of Jesus took us from under the authority of the spiritual powers of evil and sets us free to serve God. The victory of the gospel restores authority on earth back to the people that God gave it to at the beginning. The confused spirits begin listening to the voice of God’s people. They obey followers of Jesus, because they recognise their genuine authority on earth.

As the numbers of people following Jesus increase, bad spirits will get less negative commands to act on. More and more will obey followers of Jesus. This switch of allegiance will bring massive transformation on earth. Evil will disappear and good will reign in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God will advance on earth and become a reality that is unimaginable today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

SPEs (10) Last Spiritual Battle

I have always seen last battle in Revelation 19 as a spiritual struggle, not a physical war, but I never realised that most of the spiritual powers of evil would shift allegiance and surrender to Jesus.

Revelation describes what happens after political power is destroyed. Jesus has crowns on his head. This means that all authority on earth will at last be fully surrendered to him.

Jesus was given authority on earth by the whose follow him. They were dressed in white linen, which is their righteous deeds (Rev 19:8). They had come to the place of victory through their love and suffering for Jesus.

Jesus rides out to meet the spiritual powers that have used kings, generals and mighty men to control the earth. They will be destroyed and surrender their power to him.

The name on Jesus' thigh is King of Kings and Lord of Lord. This reflects the fullness of the Kingdom of God and the demise of human political power. All authority and power on earth will be surrender to Jesus, as the principalities and powers that have controlled the earth are destroyed.

Jesus is wearing a blood-stained garment, which is a reminder of his mercy and love. His followers are riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen. White symbolises pure and persevering faith. The fine linen represents faith and trust.

The blood on his robe is a sign that the blood brings deliverance for the spiritual powers of evil too. Jesus establishes this victory in two steps.

Firstly, the collapse of political power on earth eliminates the authority of the principalities and powers in the spiritual realms. Beast and False Prophet are captured. They are spiritual powers that controlled the earth through a final powerful political empire, that eclipses all previous empires. Beast makes all political powers submit to a powerful empire. This significantly reduces their power. When Beast is destroyed, all other political power will disappear too. This collapse of political power will destroy the authority of the spiritual principalities and powers.

The spiritual beast and false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire. It symbolises destruction. These powerful spirits refuse to be reconciled with God, so they give themselves over to destruction.

Secondly, the rest of the spiritual powers of evil will be exposed by the truth and be reconciled to God. Jesus has a sword coming out of his mouth, which represents the truth. He speaks the truth to the spiritual power of evil. They are convicted by the truth and return to serving God.

The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh (Rev 19:21).
This sword is not physical, but spiritual. It is a word of truth which eliminates the rebellion from the rest of the spiritual powers of evil. They are not destroyed, because they are not thrown into the lake of fire. Rather they are totally defeated. The birds eating their flesh symbolises total and certain victory. They will be convicted by the truth and will submit to Jesus when they recognise the authority of his words. The massive army that they have been part of will cease to exist. All that will remain will be the damage that they have done on earth (represented by the discarded flesh).

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

SPEs (9) Our Choice

The powers of evil will ask, “Can we leave our evil life behind and return to following God.”

Jesus will say, “You can, but my followers will make the final decision. The Father said that those who follow me will judge the angels”.

Do you not know that we shall judge angels (1 Cor 6:3)?
Christians who know that verse and are looking forward to condemning evil angels to hell have not understood it. What God was saying is that we will decide their fate. We will decide whether they are allowed to come back onto his side. We will have to decide if we will trust them to work with us again, after all they have done to us.

We have authority to decide the fate of the spiritual powers of evil because they operated on earth and authority on earth has been given to humans. Once that authority has been restored by the advance of the gospel, we will have authority over all spiritual power operating on earth.

God’s plan to reconcile everything in heaven to him will fail if we refuse, because we do not trust those who have done evil. For his purposes to be fulfilled, we will have to forgive follower spirits and welcome them back to serving God.

The scriptures say that we will judge the angels. This is not a moral judgement, like the one we will face. Rather, when the spirits hear Jesus voice and decide to return to his Kingdom, humans will have to decide if they should be allowed back, given that they have done so much evil. Our natural inclination will be to say “no”, because we do not trust them.

If we are going to welcome them back, we will need to love them as God loves them. I suspect that we have prevented many spirits from returning to the fold because we are ungracious towards them. If we love them, we would have reconciled many of them already.

Love
If we are going to welcome follower spirits back, we will need to love them as God loves them. I suspect that we have prevented many of them from returning to the fold because we hate them. If we loved them, we would have reconciled many of them already.

God loves all the angels and spirits that he created, even though many opposed his plans. He understands that they have been tricked into hearing and obeying the wrong voice. He has a plan to rescue them and bring them back into his kingdom (Col 1:20).

We hate bad spirits because they do evil; We find it hard to imagine that they could be reconciled with God. We just assume that they will be evil forever. However, God has never stopped loving them. He created them and is sad to see them hearing and obeying a different voice. He wants to rescue them.

If we were as gracious as God, we would love them and want to see them reconciled with the Father. If we loved them instead of hating them, we would have more authority over them, because our voice would be clearer with more authority (hate obscures authority).
We should be praying for the time when the spirits in the spiritual realms will be reconciled with the Father. We have been forgiven much, so we must be willing to forgive those that have done great evil.