Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Visions

When someone writes to me about a vision they have received, I suggest there are several questions that they need to answer.

Why?
Why do they get these visions? Are they for them to strengthen their prayer times. Or are they something that they need to share.

Who?
What are they for? There are many possible answers: them, their church, someone they know, the wider church, people in the world. They need to know who the vision is for.

How?
If a vision is for sharing, how does God want them to share it? He can tell them.

Format: The communication will be different from the revelation. They are not the same.

Medium: How does God want the communication spread. Preaching a sermon is just one possible way. A message can be shared in a variety of ways, depending on who is it for.

They need to get answers to all these questions.

Monday, September 17, 2018

New Season?

Reading prophetic websites, I see many prophetic people saying that we are entering a new season. I am not sure what that means. It suggests that God is going to do something new that he was not doing before. It suggests that the Holy Spirit is working in one place and not in another. It makes it seems like God stops and starts, or moves in one place and not in another.
God is not fickle or capricious. He is not lazy. God does not speak like this.

I am not going to do much in India for the next fifty years, because they have had a good run.

I am going to move now in Russia now, because I have not done much there for the last 200 years.

I am not going to much in the United States, because I can’t be bothered.

I am going to more in New Zealand, because I have not been doing much until now.

God has released his Holy Spirit into the world. He is always at work. He does not turn the flow on and off according to his whim.

God does not engage in trial and error. He does not try things to see if they will work. He has a plan. He has been implementing that plan ever since the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was released. He has not changed his plan.

The activity of the Holy Spirit depends on the degree of cooperation that he receives from humans. Humans have authority on earth, so he needs our permission to operate on earth. He has no arms and legs, so he needs people to work through. He has no mouth, so he needs people to speak through.

If the Holy Spirit begins to move in a place, it is because he has found people willing to do what he needs them to do. If the Holy Spirit stops moving in a place, it is because people have stopped cooperating with him. The problem is never with God. The problem is always with us.

So we should be careful about saying that a new season has started, because it makes it sound like God is going to start doing something that he was not doing before. It makes it sound like God is the reason why nothing was happening. This makes him the problem, which removes responsibility from us, but is not fair to God.

If a new level of activity begins in a place, it will be because people in that place have started cooperating with the Holy Spirit in a way that they were not before. It is not because God has changed his mind, and is doing something he was not doing before.

There are seasons in human history, but they are marked by epochal events that change the relationship between earth and heaven. For example, the giving of the law to Moses began a new season, because people on earth had something they did not have before. It gave God’s people the capability to live in peace with each other and with God. It also gave the spiritual powers of evil the right to accuse them of their failure to keep the law.

The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus was the ultimate epochal event that brought in a new season, because it totally changed the relationship between God and humans Sins have been forgiven, and the way opened for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on all who believe.

Because the Jews, rejected Jesus, we a currently in a season called the Times of the Gentiles. The epochal event that will end this season is the Calling of the Jews. I have explained this at Times and Seasons.

Until that event occurs, we must be careful about calling a new season, when nothing has changed in the spiritual realms to bring about change on earth. If there is no epochal event, there is unlikely to be a new season. The powers of evil are just as defeated as they have been since the cross. God has not defeated them further.

God always wants to do something better on earth. Calling a new season makes it sound like he is going to do something new, regardless of the response of his people. However, he can only do something different, if people on earth cooperate with him more than they did in the past. There could be a new season of cooperation, but God cannot force that to happen.

God will not be doing something new. If something different happens on earth, it will be because people have allowed him to do what he always wanted to do.

Christians looking for a new season should understand that God will not change his mind and bless what they were doing previously. Rather, they should be asking him what they need to do differently to receive his blessing.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Changing God's Mind

A person speaking on Christian radio suggested that prayer is changing the heart and mind of God. I am not sure about that.

God loves me. He knows everything that can be known. He knows what is best for me. If God wants something for me, it would be a mistake to get him to change his mind to align with what I want. I am often wrong about what I need, so if God gives in to what I want, I am probably going to get “second best”.

So, it probably better not to change God’s mind. That way I will get what is best for me.

Prayer is not changing God’s mind, or persuading him to do something that he does not want to do. It is giving him permission to do what he already wants to do.

One place where it might seem we could change God’s mind is about what he is planning to do for someone else. For example, Abraham thought that he changed God’s mind about what he was going to do about Sodom. But that is only part of the picture.

God gave authority over the earth to humans, so he can only intervene on earth, if we give him permission. Humans sinned and surrendered their authority on earth to the spiritual powers of evil. They used their stolen authority to get with wrecking and destroying everything that God had created ever since.

God needed to intervene and cut off the advance of evil in Sodom, but he could not do it without human permission. So, Abraham was not really changing God’s mind. He was giving God permission to do what he had already decided to do. God let Abraham think that he was persuading him to be merciful, so that he would give God the permission that he needed.

Prayer is not changing Gods mind. It is not persuading him to do things for us that he does not want to do. Prayer is people with authority on earth giving God permission to what he has already said that he wants to so. Therefore, a key to prayer is listening to God and discovering what he wants to do.

More at Prayer and Authority.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Role of a Prophet to a Nation

A prophet to a nation should understand that Jesus came to establish the Government of God. A nation cannot have to kings. A nation cannot have to governments. So, as the kingdom of God expands in a nation, its human government must shrink and fade away.

A prophet to a nation will understand that human governments are not part of God’s ultimate plan for his people. The people of Israel wanted to have a king to be like the surrounding nations, but was not God’s plan (1 Sam 8). God gave into them as a concession to their sinfulness, but he wanted to be their king. He wanted them to trust him for protection.

These prophets will realise that that human political power is a serious obstacle to the Kingdom of God because it undermines God’s authority and offers a false salvation. They will understand that trust in human political power will have to be swept away before the Kingdom of God can come to fullness on earth.

Prophets to the nation will provide guidance to their government when asked, but they will understand that all governments are living on borrowed time. They will be watching for the time when their government will collapse and disappear. When the time is right, their prophetic words will release the power of the Holy Spirit to destroy human government and open the way for the emergence of God’s government. When a human government collapses, the principalities and powers that have amplified their power through it will be shattered. Once the spiritual forces that have dominated the nation are fragmented and weak, the gospel will go forth in the power of the Spirit.

When human governments stop functioning, a power vacuum will exist. Those who have trusted human government will be desperate for something different and better. With their human government crushed by events that it could not control, people will be welcome the Kingdom of God.
The prophets to the nation will understand the nature of the Government of God and be prepared to teach people how to receive it in their midst. They will teach people how to form Kingdom Communities that can provide welfare, justice and protection for people who have lost hope. Political power will be chopped up, pushed down and spread around to people who trust Jesus and walk in the Spirit.

Kingdom Communities will transform their neighbourhoods. As the structures of society fall apart, they will demonstrate a way of life that appeals to a shaken world. Each Kingdom community will provide everything that human governments have failed to deliver, but without Imposed Authority. They will be united by love and service under Free Authority.

In the Government of God, justice will be provided by local judges who emerge in their community to apply God’s law. Defence will be provided Temporary Military Leaders that arise within their community. Prophets will have a key rule in teaching judges how to apply God’s law.

More at Prophet to a Nation.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Coming of the Kingdom

When did the Kingdom of God begin? Most theologians assume that Jesus inaugurated a kingdom, but that does not seem to be right. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God had come near, which implies that it already existed.

The scriptures teach that the Kingdom of God began when God rescued the children of Israel from Israel and Moses led them into the promised land. God spoke to the people through Israel.

Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my set-apart people (Ex 19:5-6).

God promised that if they kept his covenant and obeyed his word, they would be a kingdom of priests and people set apart for God. They would be a kingdom with God as their king. When they accepted the covenant, the Kingdom of God began.

The Kingdom of God was established in Moses time, but it quickly slipped away. The fullness of the Holy Spirit had not come, so the people struggled to live with God as their king. They quickly shifted to trusting in political and military power. This choice was cemented in place in Samuel’s time when the people demanded a king like the nations. God explained to Samuel that they had rejected his kingship (1 Sam 8).

The Kingdom came again with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. However, it has waxed and waned. It advanced quickly, but in the third century, it became emerged in political and military power.

A kingdom has laws. People who assume that the Kingdom of God began with Jesus claim that the Sermon on the Mount is the law of the Kingdom. That is a mistake because it turns a description of behaviour that flows out of life in the Spirit into a set of rules that are impossible to keep. The gospel is life in the Spirit not a tougher set of rules.

The laws of the Kingdom are the laws of Moses. Their purpose is to restrain the behaviour of people who have rejected the gospel and the Spirit and help the people of God to live together in peace. I explain how these apply in my books called Government of God and God’s Economy.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Looking Ahead

Plenty of people are warning of difficult times ahead, but anyone with their eyes open can see that the world faces many problems. The challenge is to prepare God's people to remain strong through the times of distress and to be victorious out the other side.

The Church should be explaining how Christians can remain strong while the world is crumbling and weak. It should explain how Christians would be able to reach out to the people of the world who are struggling and draw them into a place of safety. It should be telling them how to start building the new thing that God wants to establish in the middle of the world's troubles.

We do not need more prophets warning of political and economic disasters. We need prophets who can prepare Gods people how to survive through the difficult times and deliver a new thing after the times of distress run their course.

The Bible describes the "men from Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chron 12:32). Every society needs people who understand the times and know what God's people should do. Most of the time this gift has been lacking from the church.
When Rome fell, Christians were shocked. The Roman Empire had been around for 500 years, so they assumed that it would be around forever. Christians believed that it was part of God's plan for expanding his Kingdom. They were so used to it being there, that they could not imagine life without it.

Worse still, church structures had aligned with imperial power structures, so Christians found it hard to cope without the order of the empire. No one prepared Christians for the collapse of Rome. They had not prepared Christians to live in a world without an empire, so they struggled to cope, an enormous opportunity was lost. It took the church a 1000 years to regain the ground that was lost.

We have the same problem in the modern world. Democratic political power and the nation-state have dominated life in the West for so long that we find it hard to imagine life without them. However, they are not part of God's plan of salvation so they will not last forever.
Many Christians have identified democratic capitalism with the Kingdom of God. When the evils of democratic capitalism are exposed, they will be totally shocked. Just like the Christians shocked by the collapse of Rome.

When the western political system collapses, will Christians be ready to take advantage of the opportunity, or will we be stunned and confused like the Christians in the Roman Empire. Unless the quality of our prophetic ministry improves, we will be stuck in the headlights of disaster, just like them.

We do not need more warnings of political and economic disasters. We need prophets who can prepare Gods people how to survive through the difficult times and deliver a new thing after the times of distress run their course.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Church Dysfunction

The main reason that the prophetic ministry is not functioning correctly in the modern church is that the leadership is not functioning correctly. Most churches are led by a pastor-leader, so many prophets have become pastors to find a place of ministry. This is not a solution, because the church operates best when elders are functioning in their true ministry and not trying to be something they are not.

Without a prophet, a Church will be prone to sin. One reason that we have so many immature and weak churches is that prophets are missing from the leadership of the church.

A strong Church needs the righteousness that only comes when prophets are present. The modern church has millions of pastors, but only a few prophets. This serious imbalance has severely weakened the church.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Salvation in Hebrews

The letter to the Hebrews speaks about what happened on the cross.

Jesus did all that had to be done.

He carried our sins (anaphero).

Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many (Heb 9:28).

He saves us (sozo).

He is able to save completely those who come to God through him (Heb 7:25).

Eternal salvation for us (soteria).

After he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Heb 5:9).

Guarantor (bondsman) of a better covenant on our behalf (egguos).

Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant (Heb 7:22).

Dealt with powers of evil – both their accusations and their ransom demands

Propitiation of the spiritual powers of evil (hilaskomai)

He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Heb 2:17).

Jesus put away sin for us (cancelled) (athetesis).

He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb 9:26).

He has redeemed from capitivity to the spiritual powers of evil ( apolutrosis).

He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15).

Jesus dealt with our guilt and shame.

Cleansed our conciences (kartharizo).

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God (Heb 9:16)?
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (Heb 10:22).

We can draw near to God (eggizo)

A better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. (Heb 7:19).

Purification of sins for us (karthimosis).

After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb 1:3).

We have been made holy (hagiazo).

We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb 10:10).
Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood (Heb 13:12).

We have been made perfect/complete (teleioo).

By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Heb 10:14).

God forgave our sin and forgot them.

Sins were forgotten by God (mnaomai).

Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more (Heb 10:16-17).

Sins were forgiven by God (put away) (aphesis).

And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary (Heb 10:16-17).

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Preparing for the Next Season

Three of my books have a common purpose. They are Being Church Where We Live, Government of God and God's Economy. Some readers think that these books are unrealistic and impractical. In a way that is true. Although these books contain a great deal of wisdom that is relevant now, they are not for this time. I have written them to help people prepare for the new season that will emerge soon (I explain the changing seasons in Kingdom Authority).

When a culture collapses, there is no time to think about options to replace it. It is too late to think about what to do next, when next is already here. That needs to be done in advance, especially if the transition is a time of distress.

The church always struggles to be ready the next season it faces. When the gospel conquered the Roman Empire, the church had not thought clearly about the implication, so it embraced political power with no understanding of the dangers.

When the Rome Empire collapsed, the church was totally unprepared. Christians saw Rome as an instrument of Gods plan to bring in his kingdom. When Rome expanded, the Kingdom of God expanded. The Kingdom was so bound up with the Roman Empire that they could not see how church life could go on without it. When the empire collapsed, they were shattered and confused, and many fell away. It took more than 500 years for the church to recover from the Dark Age that followed the collapse of Rome.

I believe that we are close to the end of another season. Democratic government and industrial capitalism have provided unprecedented peace and prosperity for the Western World. Unfortunately, this great social and cultural development is running out of steam. The main source of democratic and economic power has been the United States, but it has lost its way. Despite many recent moves by the Holy Spirit, the strength of the gospel that has been the source of its strength has lost its way.

Without the life of God to sustain it, the strength of the United States will fail. The nation could go two ways. It could fragment and break into numerous tribal groupings as happened it many other nations. Or it could become a totalitarian empire in an effort to hold back the tide of decay. Either way, it will be nasty for the US and for the rest of the world that gets caught in the crossfire.

Like the Roman Christians, God’s people in our time have confused democracy and industrial capitalism with the Kingdom of God. When they collapse, they will believe that the Kingdom of God has failed too. God’s people will need a vision that can sustain them through the darkness and inspire them to build something new.

I have written these three books so that when our culture collapses, at least some of God’s people will be prepared with a new way of living. If enough people are prepared for the change of season, God will use them to build something better and establish his government in the world.

So, if you have bought any of these books, and don’t like them, don’t throw them away, but give them to one of your children and tell them to get them out and study them when the season is changing.

And if you are a forerunner and want to be prepared for the next season, you should get these books and read them carefully.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (11) United States

I sense that the United States is close to a turning point.

Many prophets are prophesying that revival is close. That is certainly what God wants, but the outcome depends on whether his people do what he needs to be done to achieve his purposes. The outcome depends on the response of his people. Will they take his call seriously? Most American prophets assume that revival will come, but that outcome is not automatic. It depends on how God’s people respond to his call.

Thirty years ago, the situation in New Zealand was similar to that in America today. The Billy Graham crusades and the Jesus movement had increased the number of serious Christians. The bible was taught in most state primary schools. The Prime Minister carried a copy of the ten commandments in his briefcase. Numerous prophecies announced that revival was coming to New Zealand. We all believed it would happen. But it didn’t.

I believe that God wanted revival, but it seems that his people were not ready to take up the challenge. The revival prophesied has not come yet.

It has amazed me how quickly a nation with a Christian worldview can turn secular if it does not fulfil God's calling. The news and entertainment media in New Zealand are now openly hostile to Christianity. There are no Christian politicians in the cabinet and very few in Parliament. This is sad, but it confirms that revival is not automatic, just because Christians want it and prophesy it. They also have to obey the call and do what God requires.

There is still a strong Christian influence in the United States, but it is waning. The nation might turn back to God, but it could just as easily go the other way. The prophecies about revival and the Holy Spirit moving describe what God wants to achieve, but the fulfilment depends on whether the people respond to his call. The faith of previous generations does not guarantee it.

If the people of God listen to his Spirit and obey his word, there could be a mighty revival that turns the nation back to God and brings great blessing to the earth. But that outcome is no automatic. God does not force people to change.

People could just as easily harden their hearts to the gospel and reject the calling of the Holy Spirit. The influence of the spiritual powers of evil seems to be growing. The spirits of political and military power seem to be throwing their weight around to expand the American empire. In the worst-case scenario, America has the potential to become the Beast described in the Book of Revelation. It certainly has sufficient economic and military power to take on this role.

The American nation faces two very different futures.

  • Revival leading to blessing and reconciliation.
  • Rejection of God leading to political, economic and military power.
Looking from the outside, the outcome is not obvious.

In this situation, the role of prophets to the nation is incredibly important. They should be explaining the situation to the nation and warning of the consequence of the choices that are being made. Speaking only of reconciliation is misleading, because it might not happen. People need to understand the other possibilities, too.

Instead of giving a clear trumpet call, prophetic people in America seem to be obsessed with Donald Trump. Most seem to blind supporters, but a few are really hostile. This is a serious distraction, because a political leader cannot bring in the Kingdom of God. Donald Trump can wreck a few things, but he cannot build the Kingdom of God. Nor can a conservative Supreme Court. Salvation comes from grace, not law-keeping.

God explained to Samuel the prophet that when the people of God seek a human ruler, they are rejecting God as king. That is not changed by giving the ruler a different name.

They have rejected me as their king (1 Sam 8:7).
When the Kingdom of God comes, God will be king, not a powerful human ruler.

The United States urgently needs prophets to give a clear message to the nation. They will

  • Describe to the nation the different outcomes that lie before it.
  • Explain to the nation the consequences of the choices being made.
  • Warn what the powers of evil are planning to do.
  • Describe what will happen if the nation continues on its currents path.
  • Tell the people of God what they must do to bring the nation back under God.
  • Tell political and business leaders what the need to do to bring the nation back on to God’s path.
  • Tell the people of God how to be a remnant that he can use, if the nation continues to go in the wrong way.
Irony
The irony is that if revival does come to America, the nation will not become great again in the way that many people expect. God does not work through political domains. He works through local communities that trust him. So if the revival comes, the nation might break up into smaller kingdom communities, as human political power and military force become redundant. This is a vision that American prophets should be proclaiming.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (10) Relevant Message

The message of a prophet to a nation changes according to the season.

  • During a season of blessing, a prophet will encourage the people to press on further. After they had crossed the Red Sea, Moses gave the people a song of victory to sing (Ex 15). He gave the people laws to enable them to live together in peace in a new land (Ex 21:1). He showed them how to build and operate the tabernacle for spiritual protection (Ex 25:40). Moses was a prophet who led the people from blessing to blessing (Deut 34:10). The prophets of Israel prophesied victory when the nation was attacked without reason (2 Chron 20:15-17).

  • If the people open a door to evil by forgetting God, prophets to a nation will warn of the dangers. They will encourage the people who remain faithful and explain to them what to do to turn their nation around. For example, Moses warned the children of Israel not to forget God was the source of all their blessings (Deut 8:10-11).

  • If the nation is getting close to a turning point, the prophets to a nation will explain to the people how the seasons are changing. They will warn of the consequences of rejecting God’s ways. They will interpret Warning Events that might be occurring.

    Jeremiah warned the people not to deceive themselves by assuming that everything will be all right (Jer 37:9). This is the greatest danger when approaching a turning point. People assume that the situation will improve, although nothing has happened to cause it.

    The OT prophets mostly operated in this season. Because the fullness of the spirit has not come, the nation of Israel was in decline and turning away from God for most of OT history. This is why they often seem to be doom and gloom. They were negative, but they lived in a negative season.

  • When God is being squeezed out, the prophets to a nation will focus on encouraging and equipping a remnant. They tell them how to live and keep safe during a season of judgment.

    Jeremiah had this role. He wrote a letter to the remnant telling them what they should do – go to Babylon and make homes there (Jer 29:4-7). He gave the remnant hope for the future – God will bring them back when seventy years are complete (Jer 23:6-9; 29:10).

    The prophets to a nation will also warn their political leaders about what is happening and tell them what to do. Jeremiah spoke to King Jehoiakim and told him what to do, but the King refused to listen, so he was deposed by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 36:30-31). Jeremiah also spoke to King Zedekiah, his successor and promised that he would live to old age, if he surrendered to the king of Babylon(Jer 34:2-5).

The OT prophets were not doom and gloom merchants. They discerned the changing seasons, and their words changed according to the season.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (9) Discerning Seasons

I have described how judgments and seasons work in an article called Discerning Seasons. In this article, I set out a framework for understanding events on earth. A nation where people have followed God can go through five stages.

  1. Blessing
    When a large number of Christians live in a city or country, God has considerable authority in that place. He is able to determine most of what happens there.

  2. Door opened
    When the number of Christians in the population declines, God's authority on earth shrinks. As the number of people rejecting God increases, a door is opened to the evil political-spirits and government-spirits (principalities and powers). More of what happens is the result of their influence.

  3. Tipping point
    There is a tipping point where the authority of the political-spirits and government-spirits on earth exceeds the authority of God. When the proportion of Christian on earth reaches this tipping point, the powers of evil have a much greater influence on earth. More and more events will be the consequence of their activities.

  4. God squeezed out
    When the tipping point is passed and the number of Christians shrinks dramatically, God's authority is squeezed out. The forces of evil begin to get a free hand on earth. They get to determine what happens on earth and God has very little influence.

  5. Remnant arises
    When the tipping point is passed and the world is flooded with evil, God raises a remnant. They will be in the world, so they will not escape the pain, but by standing together, they will rise above it to do God's work. He can accomplish more through a small committed than the forces of evil can accomplish with a free hand.

These stages are fully described in Discerning Seasons. As a nation goes through these stages, different types of judgement are experienced. These are described in an article called Prophetic Events. There are four types of event.
  1. Shaking Event
    God does not actually send the shaking. He just withdraws his protection and allows people to experience some of the consequences of their behaviour for a short time. The event occurs when God temporarily lifts his protection in a particular time and place, rather than because he decides to do something evil.

  2. Warning Events
    When the Christian influence declines and society is close to the tipping point, the powers of evil begin to show off. The devil is not very creative, so he just does on a smaller scale, what he would like to do, if he had much more authority, but does not. These events are warning signs for those who alert. Christians who understand their times will able to discern these signs and get an early warning of what is going to happen, if society continues in the way that it is going.

  3. Evil Events
    Once a society has moved past the tipping point, political-spirits and government-spirits have the freedom to do their stuff. God is no longer on the throne, so he is powerless to intervene. He has given authority on earth to humans, so if they have passed it on to the forces of evil, rather than to him, he can do nothing about the situation in the short term.

  4. Protective Judgments
    God sometimes assesses a nation and decides that it has become so evil that it is beyond saving. In this situation, he then has no choice but to allow its destruction to minimise evil. I refer to these as protective judgments, because their primary purpose is to protect the world from evil. God does not engage in mindless destruction. He always destroys empires when that it is the best way to constrain evil.

These are brief summaries. Read the articles to get a full understanding. The first and the last types are the only ones for which God is directly responsible.

Monday, August 27, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (8) Prophetic Role

Prophets to cities and nations should be discerning the seasons and warning nations about the decisions that their leaders are making.

  • They should explain what is happening in the nation.
  • They should describe the choices that they have.
  • The should be describing what will occur if the city or nation continues on its currents path.
  • They should be describing the change of season if that is occurring.
  • They should be telling the leaders what they need to do to bring a change of direction.
  • They should be speaking to the people of God and telling them what they can do to help their city or nation turn back to the right path.
  • They should be teaching the people of God how they can survive as a remnant, if their city or nation continues down the wrong path.
Revelation
The book of Revelation is a new covenant prophecy that attempts to answer the questions that prophets should be asking about the destiny of nations.
  • It describes what the spiritual powers of evil want to do.
  • It explains what will happen when the nations reject God’s wisdom and trust in human political power.
  • It describes plan for turning the situation around and establishing his Kingdom.
  • It tells the people of God what they must do to survive the shaking and be ready for Gods victory.

The is what new covenant prophets should be doing.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (7) Words to a Nation

Although nations are not bound by God’s covenant with Israel, they are accountable to the covenant established with humans at creation. When God had finished creating humans, he explained the way that world works. He promised that if people obeyed him and followed his wisdom, they would receive blessing (the tree of life). He warned that if they rejected him, they would lose that blessing. God would not inflict a curse on them. The spiritual powers of evil would attack them and it would seem like they are cursed.

God has created a world with judgment built in and inevitable, because it is intrinsic to the way that the world works.

  • Those who obey God do not just get the benefit of their goodness and wisdom. It is amplified by the blessing of the Holy Spirit. This is grace.
  • Anyone who rejects God does not just experience the consequences of their lack of wisdom, the effect is amplified by the attack of the spiritual powers of evil taking advantage of their lack of spiritual protection.
So when a city or nation turns away from God, the consequences can be nasty. The new covenant does not change that.

When the Old Testament prophets spoke to the surrounding nations, they did not call them to account for their failure to comply with the covenant that God made with Israel. Rather, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel warned the nations of what would happen to them because they had rejected God ways (see Isaiah 13-21). They had given up his protection, so they were vulnerable to the spiritual powers of evil. These powers might build them up for a while, but they would eventually destroy them, because that is what they love violence and destruction.

Most of the judgments announced by the OT prophets were not initiated by God, but were the work of the spiritual powers of evil. The warnings of the Old Testament prophets were not God’s plan. They describe what will occur when cities and nations reject God and lose his protection.

Prophets to the nations should still be warning the nations about what will happen if they continue on their current path. They should not be saying that God will destroy them. They should be saying that they have opened themselves to the spiritual powers of evil and the consequences will not be good.

The word “judgment” is used to describe what happens, but could just as easily be described as “consequences” or "feedback loop". The word judgment is appropriate as it the consequence of the moral decisions made by the people and leaders of the city or nation, particularly those in authority. Their decisions are tested by the spiritual powers of evil and found wanting.

God does not initiate the consequence directly, but he created a world in which it would be possible for the spiritual powers of evil to gain a foothold. He does not shirk from that responsibility. That is why the scriptures often describe these events as God’s judgment.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (6) Prophets to the Nations

I agree with Dan McCollam that we should not appeal to the old covenant when prophesying to the nations. It was a covenant with the children of Israel. The modern nations have never agreed to the terms of the old covenant, so they are not accountable to it.

However, we need a clearer understanding of the role of the Prophet to a Nation. This is a different role from the prophet speaking to people or to a church. As Dan says, the latter should be imparting courage, strength and comfort to the body of Jesus so they can take hold of their earth-shaking destinies. They should be imparting courage, strength and comfort to transform the world with kingdom realities. They should be releasing the grace that transforms the earth with a message of reconciliation, because the role of the church is reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-19).

The role of a prophet to a nation is different. I have described it more fully in Prophet to a Nation. 1 Cor 14 is directed to prophecy in the church. If we apply it to prophecy to nations we will get a limited view. To understand the role, we need to learn from the OT prophets, but do it with careful discernment.

Nations and their leaders have a strong tendency to turn away from God, so they often need warning and correction. Christians living within them need a clear trumpet sound, so they know what they should do.

If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound,
who will prepare for battle? (1 Cor 15:8).
If a Christian prophet is called to bring prophecies to their nation, they must make a transition to the different level of operation. They must not bring spiritual warm fuzzies when the nation really needs a clear trumpet call. They should be answering the following questions.
  • What is going on in this nation?
  • What are the spiritual powers of evil planning to do?
  • Has the season changed?
  • What are the signs of a turning point?
  • What do the people of the nation or its leaders need to do to turn things around?
  • What is God doing in the nation?
  • What do the people of God need to do, to be a part of what the Lord is doing?
A calling to speak to the nation will be rare. Most prophets will function as an elder in a Church and only a few will become a Prophet to the Nation. We should not confuse these two roles. Most prophetic people will never get beyond the ordinary role of elder in their Church. Those with a ministry in a Church should not presume to be a Jeremiah or an Amos. God will need to much work in their lives, before they are ready for this difficult task.

Friday, August 24, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (5) Using the Old Covenant

Dan McCollam notes that some people point out that Jesus prophesied judgments on Jerusalem and its people. However, when he announced the destruction of Jerusalem, he was warning of what would happen to the people who rejected his new covenant chosen to stay under the old.

Dan said that some people say that the same is true for a city or nation that has rejected God. We can pronounce judgment over it, because they have rejected God. However, they have not rejected his covenant, because they did not know about his covenants. They are not the people of the covenant. The people of Jerusalem were the people of the covenant. They chose to reject the new, despite the signs and wonders that Jesus did in their midst.

Jesus judgments are not a model for new covenant prophecy. They are what is the finality of old covenant prophecy looked like. They do not apply to a pre-Christian person, city or nation.

Dan says that we cannot use the standards of the old covenant when prophesying to modern people who have not accepted the gospel. They never signed up to the old covenant with God, so we cannot judge them for failing to comply with it.

I agree with this, but I think we need to be careful about saying that Jesus is not the model for new covenant prophecy. He must be the model for new covenant prophets. He announced a judgment on Jerusalem, but did it with tears (Matt 23:27-39). He said that he would much rather draw the people to himself for protection, but knew that they would not accept that option.

Modern prophets should follow Jesus example and use the old covenant when prophesying to the Jewish people, especially those in Israel. The people of Israel have chosen to live under the old covenant and are claiming the privileges and blessing of the old covenant while failing to comply with the standards of God’s covenant.

Most modern prophets seem to be cheerleaders for the Israeli nation. Their standard for assessing Israel seems to come from the textbooks of military and political power, not the old covenant. This failure to challenge Israel for failing to comply with their covenant with God is limiting the power of the gospel. It is holding back the time when all Israel comes to faith, which is the key to blessing the world (Rom 11:12,26).

More at Prophetic Voice.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (4) Prophesying Disaster

Dan McCollam is concerned that prophets on the internet are prophesying tsunamis, fires, storms and other types of destruction and associating them with the judgment of God. They often feel validated when their prophecies of destruction come true and loss of life and destruction occur.

I agree with him. We should be validated by our Christlikeness. We should glory in nothing but the cross of Jesus. The pain and death of suffering people should not make us glad. Jesus came into the world so people would not perish (John 3:16).

A prophet can receive three types of vision for the future of a nation.

  • Some visions show what the people deserve. They show what the justice of God demands. Eg Amos 7:1.

  • The Holy Spirit sometimes shows his people what the spiritual powers of evil want to do. When people turn away from God, they give them authority to fulfil his plans. The devil is a destroyer, so these visions are often destructive. Spiritual people who are not Christians may also receive these visions, but from a different source.

  • Some visions show what God is going to do to turn his people back to him, as his justice is tempered by his mercy. The purpose of these events is restoring and purifying (Amos 7:7-9).

Notes
  • The first two types may be the same. Satan demands the right to execute the judgements that justice requires.

  • The first type of visions should be prayed against. The mercy of God should be claimed. (Jer 18:20; Jer 14:21; Dan 9:4-19; Ps 106:23).

  • The first type should not be proclaimed as if it were God's will, as this would give the devil permission to do it. If it is announced, it should be conditional. "This is what will happen, if you keep on the way that you are going".

  • The second type should be prayed against. We resist the enemy by disagreeing with his words and visions and declaring. "That is not God's will" (Eph 6:10-18).

  • The second type of vision should not be proclaimed as this would give glory to Satan. If Christians agree with this vision, it gives him authority to implement his plans, even if they are contrary to God's will.

  • The third type of vision should be prayed into being. It might still be scary, but because its purpose it mercy, it is right to pray for it. It is part of God's plans for restoration. When we declare these visions, it gives God's authority to do his will on earth.

  • A prophet who always looks to wrath is imitating Satan. A true prophet must centre on God's mercy.

  • When a vision is received, we must pray to find what type of vision it is. We must get God's perspective, before we proclaim the vision.

More at Watchmen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (3) Violent Prophets

During his talk at the School of Prophets, Dan McCollam describes some of the prophets he worked with when he first began to follow Jesus. It seems that there was a cohort of prophets at that time who would go into public places, expose the sins of the people they encountered, and prophesy judgments over them. They would use their prophetic gift to reveal people’s sin and tell them that they were going to hell as a way of getting them to accept the gospel. They would scare people to come to Jesus.

I understand that this type of behaviour needs to be left behind. Hearing Dan’s stories helped me understand why he and Kris Vallotton are so insistent that new covenant prophecy must be different. It helps me understand where their urgency about this comes from. However, when we discover that something we were close to was wrong, we need to be careful that we do not overreact, and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I wonder if the problem is more a lack of understanding of the gospel than the consequence of following an old covenant prophetic style. We need to understand the old covenant prophets were sometimes wrong in the way they behaved. This was not surprising, given that they did not have a revelation of Jesus that we have. No one should blindly follow the example of the Old Testament prophets, without testing their actions against the standard of Jesus.

As far as I know, we did not have this type of prophecy in New Zealand, so I have not seen this kind of behaviour. The worst that we had was evangelists who could persuade anyone who drew near that they had broken at least one of the ten commandments. They would tell them they are going to hell, because they have broken God’s commands. This type of evangelism needs to be left behind too. We should not be scaring people into the Kingdom of God. Our gospel must be good news, not bad news. Our preaching must not convey God as being harsh or cruel. Prophetic Evangelism should stir up the receiver's heart by revealing God's love for them.

With regard to people following Jesus, correction should come from pastoral people, if needed. Only in rare cases will a jolt from a prophetic word be needed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (2) Validation?

We must not validate the violence and cruelty of the Old Testament prophets. If we do, we create a problem with introducing people to God. Modern people react negatively to the cruel and violent God that they believe that they find in the Old Testament. They are unwilling to trust and follow a God that behaves that way. The only way to deal with that problem is to review the Old Testament in the light of the new covenant.

A revelation of Jesus changes our understanding of God and how he works. Looking back, we can see that the people of Old Testament times, including the prophets, misunderstood the nature and character of God. They blamed stuff done by the spiritual powers of evil onto God and caused the people to believe that God is harsh and cruel. They also failed to understand the extent of his love.

The Old Testament prophets had a limited understanding of God. They often used the power that God had entrusted to them in ways that did not reflect a true revelation of his character. Jesus rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire on villages that opposed him. He explained that this is not God’s way. He does not use violence to enforce his word.

The Old Testament prophets often got things wrong. When Elisha stirred up bears to kill the youths that mocked him, he was not being led by the Spirit (1 Kings 2:23-24). God honoured his gift, but that does not make Elisha’s behaviour right. The incident confirms the power of a curse spoken by a prophet, but it does not reveal God’s ways. Samuel often got things wrong too. For example, when he murdered an enemy king, he was not doing God’s will (1 Sam 15:33). I have written about this more in God and Violence.

God does not approve of all the actions of the Old Testament prophets, so we must not do that either. They did not comply with the standard of the Torah, which was to love your neighbour.

Love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord (Lev 19:18).
Therefore, it is not enough to say that their behaviour was appropriate for the old covenant, but is not appropriate now. Some of their behaviour was never appropriate. We must review the behaviour of the OT prophets in the light of our revelation of Jesus and acknowledge their failings. Once we do that, we will not need to defend all their behaviour, but can sift the good from the bad, understanding that they did not have that benefit of the revelation of Jesus that we have received.

The only difference is that they did not have the spiritual protection that we have through the blood of Jesus. The only way they had to protect themselves from people carrying evil spirits was to exclude them from their communities. They needed to push them out of their communities by force to be safe from spiritual attack. This meant they sometimes needed to be ruthless in excluding people who could carry evil spirits into their community. Their violence was sometimes essential for their spiritual protection, but we do not need to behave in that way, because we are protected by the cross of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament prophets did not have the revelation of Jesus that we have. They did not have the fullness of the Holy Spirit poured out that we have. Therefore, we should not be surprised that they got it wrong. Rather we should look at them with sympathy, and attempt to build on what they achieved. We should not model our behaviour on their behaviour, but learn from their example to become more like Jesus.

The Old Testament prophets had a thankless task. Their role was to watch over the covenant between God and Israel. Israel broke the covenant over and over again, so the prophets seemed to be full of doom and gloom. Israel did not have the fulness of the Spirit, so it was mostly in disobedience. The prophets spent most of their time warning of the consequence of this disobedience. They could not be nice, because the prognosis for Israel was usually nasty. Jeremiah hated his role, because he constantly had to nag the people of God (Jer 9:1-2).

In New Testament times, the church is the people of the new covenant. The prophetic role of watching over the covenant continues, but their focus shifts. Watching over the church and warning if it breaks the covenant of Jesus is not a doom and gloom ministry. The victory of the cross and the spirit means that the church mostly walks in blessing. However, there will be times when a church leaves God's path and needs to be challenged by a prophet. John's letters to the seven churches are examples of a prophetic challenge to a church that has lost the plot.

Monday, August 20, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (1)

Living in New Zealand, I have never been to the Bethel School of Prophets, so it was interesting to listen to a video of Dan McCollam speaking at it. His focus was on new covenant prophecy.

I really like what he had to say. He spoke about four big transitions that God is bringing about.

  1. Transition from demonstrators to equippers

    We are experiencing the greatest prophetic move in history. More people are prophesying now than at any time in history. It is not just a fad, but part of the dream of God being fulfilled on earth in this time.

    I agree with this sentiment. We have an abundance of prophecy, but judging from the prophetic bulletins and lists, we also have an abundance of prophetic mush. We also need to see a refining of prophecy. I would prefer less quantity and greater quality (1 Cor 14:24-25) I am sure that Dan would agree with that.

  2. Transition from old covenant (judgment-based) to new covenant (reconciliation-based) prophecy.

    There must be a transition from exposing sin and announcing judgment to reconciliation and restoration. Our focus is not to create a greater sin-consciousness on earth, but to create a greater God-consciousness on earth. Our goal is not to point out what is wrong with the earth, but to fix what is wrong on the earth through the answer of the Lord Jesus Christ and the treasures of wisdom that are hidden for such a time as this. We need prophets that are firmly established in the new covenant prophetic purpose and protocols.

    New covenant prophecy is an impartation of courage, strength and comfort to take hold of earth-shaking destinies… so that people have the courage and strength and comfort to transform the world with kingdom realities. Releasing the grace that transforms the earth. We have a message of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-19) so our ministry must be a ministry of reconciliation.

    God died so he could write a new covenant. He made that covenant with his son, so we could not mess it up. Jesus invites us into the covenant he has with the father.

    We must explore the glories of the new covenant. If we are going to see the manifestation of his glory in this realm, we must be fully committed to the new covenant pattern. We must not bring some of the old over with it.

    I agree with the desired outcome, but disagree with the basis for it. I will explain this in my next few posts.

  3. Transition from consumer to contributor

    Gods dream for the prophetic is not just to give us words for each other, but to confirm our access to the heart and mind of Christ. We can use this access to find treasures of wisdom and knowledge to release and manifest the Kingdom of God (Col 2:2-3). Wisdom is being revealed by prophetic innovation.

    We can only get God’s wisdom in a body. Each person gets a bit. We must be the generation that gets it together to receive everything God has for us.

    Our assignment is not going to heaven, it is bringing heaven to earth. The question is not how often we go to heaven, but what we are bringing from heaven to earth. We have a wonderful opportunity to change what the prophetic looks like on in earth in this generation.

  4. Transition from prophetic celebrities to raising prophetic communities

    It is not enough to train good prophets, we must build prophetic communities. Our call is to re-establish the company of the prophets and the culture of the prophetic.

    We have a wonderful opportunity. We must change what the prophetic looks like on the earth. In this generation, we must rewrite the DNA of the prophetic. What we pass on will be greater than what we have received. If we join together, we will rise together.

We live under the new covenant, so I agree with Dan McCollam that we need new covenant prophecy, but we must think a bit more about what that means. I will do that in my next few posts.