Jesus resurrection was the most momentous event that has ever occurred on earth. Prior to the resurrection, the devil, the principalities and powers had real authority that gave them a free hand on earth. The resurrection destroyed their powers. They have continued to hang round on earth getting up to mischief, but their status has changed. The principalities and power are now imposters and trespassers in Jesus world, waiting nervously for Jesus disciples to take up their authority to expose them.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph 3:10,11).This is an amazing statement. God’s eternal purpose is that the church will expose the defeat off the rulers and powers in heavenly realms that was accomplished through Jesus resurrection. We must understand the significance of this. The resurrection makes victory over the principalities and powers possible for the church. This was a huge change. The balance of power on earth was tilted dramatically in favour of God’s people.
The resurrection was a huge setback for the powers of evil. They should have been would be totally crushed, if they had not deceived Christians into unbelief about the victory of the resurrection.
Despite the victory of the resurrection, most Christians believe that things on earth will get worse and worse. Many Christians expect the power and influence of evil to grow and spread in an unprecedented way. Those who hold this view are ignoring the impact of the resurrection. They are implicitly assuming that they live in a world that is just the same as it was in Old Testament times. This is a serious mistake. The resurrection was a huge defeat for the powers of evil that should change the way we live.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Jesus resurrection was the most momentous event that has ever occurred on earth. Prior to the resurrection, the devil, the principalities and powers had real authority that gave them a free hand on earth. The resurrection destroyed their powers. They have continued to hang round on earth getting up to mischief, but their status has changed. The principalities and power are now imposters and trespassers in Jesus world, waiting nervously for Jesus disciples to take up their authority to expose them.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The resurrection was a huge victory for Jesus. The resurrection took nothing away from the crucifixion. The pains and suffering of Jesus was not reversed. The penalty for sin was still paid. Redemption was available for all who would trust in Jesus. The resurrection was a huge defeat for the devil, who thought that he had killed the only real threat to his power. By rising from the dead, Jesus exposed the Devil’s weakness. He could not get Jesus to sin and he could not kill him, so he now was powerless against him. Jesus could go on and complete his mission and the devil was powerless against him. He could ascend into heaven beyond the reach of evil. The resurrection was a massive defeat for the principalities and powers that carry out the devil’s purposes. God used the resurrection to destroy their power.
He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion (Eph 1:20.21).The principalities and powers had worked through the Roman empire and the Jewish religious to destroy Jesus. The resurrection turned their best efforts into failure.
The resurrection took nothing away from the crucifixion. The pains and suffering of Jesus was not reversed. The penalty for sin was still paid. Redemption was available for all who would trust in Jesus.
The resurrection was a huge defeat for the devil, who thought that he had killed the only real threat to his power. By rising from the dead, Jesus exposed the Devil’s weakness. He could not get Jesus to sin and he could not kill him, so he now was powerless against him. Jesus could go on and complete his mission and the devil was powerless against him. He could ascend into heaven beyond the reach of evil.
The resurrection was a massive defeat for the principalities and powers that carry out the devil’s purposes. God used the resurrection to destroy their power.
The resurrection proved that Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the Jewish prophets. David had prophesied that body of the Messiah would decay or be buried in a tomb.
Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay (Acts 2:31).The world has had many would-be messiahs. Jesus is the only one who has risen from the dead. The resurrection confirmed that he is the saviour of the world.
The resurrection was writing on the wall for human political powers. The resurrection proved that Jesus was Lord of all the earth.
God has made this Jesus… both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:26).If Jesus is Lord, the Caesar is not. If Jesus is Lord, Obama is not. When Jesus was raised from the dead, God established him as the true king of earth. Human empires and powers that do not surrender to him will be swept eventually be swept away.
The resurrection enthroned Jesus as King of Kings. All human principalities and powers will eventually have to surrender their authority to him. That should really have happened sooner.
When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he made this declaration.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matt 28:18).This was after the resurrection, but before the ascension. All authority in heaven and earth had been given to Jesus. This was the consequence of the resurrection. Jesus had promised that the Kingdom of God was close. He had called for people to get ready for its coming. The resurrection marked the coming of the Kingdom of God, because the reward for his life and death struggle with the devil was authority over all the earth. The resurrection enthroned Jesus as King of Kings and brought in the Kingdom of God.
The resurrection made it possible for Jesus to ascend into heaven and sit down at the right hand of God. His ascension was the final working out of his resurrection in fulfilment of Daniel's vision.
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Dan 7:13-14).The dominion that had been given to Adam and Eve, but was lost by them was restored to Jesus. Because he is at the right hand of the father, it can never be taken away, so his kingdom can never be destroyed. The kingdom established on the day of the resurrection can never pass away.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Jesus was God’s solution to the mess that humans created on earth. He was born as a man, so he was entitled to exercise authority on earth. Because he did not sin, he was not under the influence of evil. That is why the devil worked so hard to tempt him into sin. If Jesus had succumbed to sin, he would have come under the authority of the devil and would been unable to fulfil his commission.
When the devil managed to get Jesus crucified, he thought he had won a great victory. He believed that he had destroyed the only person who could destroy his power. With Jesus dead, the last threat to the devil’s power was gone. God only had one son, and if he was destroyed, God’s last option for victory was gone.
We think of Jesus dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. That is true. We were redeemed by his blood she during his crucifixion. However, the cross only dealt with part of the mess on earth. It deal with sin, but if Jesus stayed dead, the devil was free to continue exercising authority on earth. No good man was left to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. There was not perfect man to enter heaven with authority to release the Holy Spirit to go all out on earth. The cross on its own was a partial victory. It dealt with sin, but could not restore the earth from the harm that sin had done.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Easter is a time when many Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. However, when we think about the resurrection, we tend to look backwards and focus on the empty tomb. We celebrate the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead and rejoice in the new life that he has provided for us. The problem with looking back in this way is that we fail to understand the full impact of what the resurrection achieved for the present and the future. The resurrection was the pivotal event in history. When Jesus was raised from the dead, everything changed.
To understand the reality of the resurrection, we must understand what happened before. In the beginning, God created a beautiful world. He looked at his work and saw that it was good. God created man in his image and commissioned us to care for his world. To equip us for this task, he gave mankind full authority over the earth.
Once authority is given, it cannot be taken back, so giving humans authority over the earth was an amazing risk. God was willing to take this risk, because he had made us in his likeness. When a son is like his father, he behaves in the same way as his father. In the same way, God saw the people he had created on earth as his family. Because we were created in his likeness, he trusted us to care for his earth. His intention was to teach us to care for the earth, as a father teaches his sons or a master tradesperson trains his apprentices.
This wonderful association fell apart, when Adam and Eve were tricked into disobeying God. This did not just break their relationship with their father by obeying Satan, they surrendered to him their authority over the earth. God had given dominion over the earth to man, but man foolishly gave that dominion to the devil. This fall into sin gave evil full reign on earth. God’s beautiful world was corrupted by violence and disaster.
God the father does not go back on his word, so he would not take back the authority he has given to man. Only a human could take back the authority that was given to the devil, but because all humans are corrupted by sin, no human had the power to take back authority over the earth and boot evil out of the world.
For this full series, see the Resurrection.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Some of the strongest support for war comes from the “End-times industry”. Part of the reason for this that they no longer believe in power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit to overcome evil. They teach that, despite the gospel, the power of evil will increase as history progresses. Evil will only be overcome when Jesus returns to conquer the world using force (a rod of iron).
The idea of Jesus using force to make people accept his authority is a not only a distortion of the gospel, but it has dangerous consequence. If Christians believe that the only way for God to overcome evil is using brute force, then we should not be surprised if Christians want the United States to use force to overcome evil in this age.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you (John 16:7).If Jesus said, it is better for him to go away, so the Holy Spirit could come, why do most Christians think it would be better if Jesus came again? Seems like an insult to the Holy Spirit to me. He can't do the job, but Jesus can?
Labels: Holy Spirit
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I have also been surprised by the number of Christians who assume that war is justified, if it is authorised by the United Nations. This human organisation does not have the moral authority to decide between good an evil or to approve a war. It has sometimes provided a forum for nations to talk and resolve their differences. It has sometime provided peace keeping forces that have helped control volatile situations, but is has rarely been able to resolve the underlying (often spiritual) differences between nations.
The United Nations is very limited in what it can achieve. It has no spiritual authority, so it cannot overcome evil. The United Nations is just a committee of political leaders, some good and many evil. The decisions of it various meetings are limited to the wisdom of men. They have always been a mixture; some good, but mostly bad. Therefore, the United Nations does not have the moral authority to decide that a war is justified. Assigning authority to decide between good and evil to a human organisation is a dangerous mistake.
Labels: United Nations
Friday, April 23, 2010
The sign that Jesus gave in Matt 24:14 sign was fulfilled in biblical times. On the day of Pentecost, there were devout men in Jerusalem “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). They would have taken the gospel back to their on lands. The Bible confirms that this happened.
I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world (Rom 1:8).By the time that Paul was writing his letters to the Romans and the Colossians, the sign that Jesus gave had been fulfilled. The Bible says that the gospel had been preached in the entire world, but unfortunately many Christians refuse to believe it.
All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing (Col 1:6).
This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven (Col 1:23).
The sign did not require the completion of the Great Commission. That task is still not complete. The prophetic sign only required the preaching of the gospel as a witness and a testimony. The scriptural examples given above show that the sign was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem. It is not a sign of the second coming.
Worst of all, the belief that Jesus is coming within the next decade is dangerous. It encourages short-term thinking that distracts Christians from seeking the Kingdom of God.
I am really encouraged by the number of Christians who are starting to think seriously about the Kingdom of God. I note that when this happens, they start more long-term thinking and planning. The idea that Jesus is coming next week will have to go out the window, if we get serious about the Kingdom.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I get really disturbed by some of the beliefs that held by some quite mature Christians. These beliefs do not compromise their salvation, but they do prevent them from understanding the fullness of God’s plans for his church.
Recently I heard someone say these words.
The Bible teaches that Jesus will return when the gospel has been preached to all the nations of the earth.He then went on to say that only a few hundred tribes have not heard the gospel, so we can expect Jesus to return in the next decade.
This is a very widespread belief, but it is simply not true. The Bible does not say what my friend says it does. The verse he is referring to is Matt 24:14.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world A couple of things should be noted about this verse.
as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
First of all, we must be clear about what Jesus was referring to when he used the expression “the end”. The Greek word is “telos”. It is not the word generally used for the second coming, “paousia”. Telos means end or completion.
A close examination of the context shows that Jesus was speaking about the destruction of the Jerusalem, the time when the amazing building of the temple would be smashed (Matt 24:2,3). Jesus had warned of this event and the disciples wanted to know when it would happen. Jesus was not speaking of the second coming, but giving a sign for the destruction of Jerusalem. The gospel being “preached in the whole world” is a sign of the destruction of Jerusalem. It is a not a sign of the second coming.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Praying to God and asking him to do something that he has already done, will lead to disappointment. This has happened to many Christians. They have prayed fervently and persistently for a sick friend, but nothing has happened. When the friend eventually dies of their sickness, the Christian is left feeling disappointed with God. If this disappointment is not dealt with properly, the Christian can take offence of God. This is dangerous, because offence destroys faith and grieves the Holy Spirit.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
We need less praying, and more understanding of how Jesus died on the cross to defeat sickness. When a Christian gets sick there are two possible reasons. Sin may have opened the door to sickness. If that has happened, it is not use asking God to heal the person. They need to repent of the sin, before they can be healed, so God is powerless to heal them. Praying that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes and soften their heart would be more relevant. Asking God to do what he cannot do, will only lead to disappointment. The sickness may be the result an evil attack. If we have are attacked by evil, it is a waste of time asking God to rescue us. God defeated evil through Jesus death on the cross, so he has already rescued us from it. It is pointless asking him to do what he has already done. The Bible tells us that we should deal with evil attack by resisting it (James 5:7; 1 Pet 5:9). The Christian friend would provide more help by standing with the sick person and resisting the evil that is attacking them. It would be be more fruitful to gather several Christians together to resist the sickness out of the strength of unit.
Through the death of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, God has already given the Church everything it needs to defeat sickness. Instead of asking God to heal the sick Christian, we should be asking him to teach us how to use would he has already given us.
For more on this theme see Christian Healing.
Sin may have opened the door to sickness. If that has happened, it is not use asking God to heal the person. They need to repent of the sin, before they can be healed, so God is powerless to heal them. Praying that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes and soften their heart would be more relevant. Asking God to do what he cannot do, will only lead to disappointment.
The sickness may be the result an evil attack. If we have are attacked by evil, it is a waste of time asking God to rescue us. God defeated evil through Jesus death on the cross, so he has already rescued us from it. It is pointless asking him to do what he has already done. The Bible tells us that we should deal with evil attack by resisting it (James 5:7; 1 Pet 5:9). The Christian friend would provide more help by standing with the sick person and resisting the evil that is attacking them. It would be be more fruitful to gather several Christians together to resist the sickness out of the strength of unit.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Praying for a Sick Christians is a Waste of TimeThis statement is rather blunt. Many people will be able to point to times when it was not true, but it points to a truth that all Christians need to understand.
When a Christian friend gets sick, the usual response is ask God to heal them. A good Christian will send out emails and phone many of their friends to get as many Christians as possible praying for their sick friend. This love and compassion is admirable, but it is mostly a waste of time, because it fails to understand the cause of sickness and what Jesus has accomplished.
The reason that praying for sick Christians is a waste of effort is that Jesus has already done everything had to be done for salvation (healing). There is nothing more that God can do except increase our faith and knowledge of his love.
The Christian who asks God to heal a sick friend does not understand God’s character. Pleading only makes sense, if we could change his mind. Our approach to prayer and healing assumes that he is stingy, but might heal the person, if enough people ask him. This is nonsense. God is good. He so badly want us whole that he allowed his only son to die a cruel death. He is not holding back his healing, waiting to see if we are desperate enough to beg him to change his mind.
We need less praying, and more understanding of how Jesus died on the cross to defeat sickness. When a Christian gets sick there are two possible reasons. I will discuss those tomorrow.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Interesting thoughts from Allan Brevere.
When Christians start discussing political issues, what we do (and I am referring to both the right and left) is we assume that the primary political, and therefore, moral arena for Christian is the state. So we read the Bible’s admonitions to care for the poor, etc. and we understand it as first and foremost a recipe for government action. The left does it with the poor, the right does it with abortion.Most issues are not political.
What usually happens in these kinds of disucussion is that we resort to arguing over the law. What should we “require” or “coerce” (the language is dependent on one’s views) from the stand point of government mandate. We seem to thing that the best ways of dealing with poverty, abortion, etc is legislation. We become libertarian only when the issue up for discussion is not important to us.
I find it rather interesting that Christians who believe that one kind of law was ultimately inadequate for our salvation are so quick to turn to another kind of law to get the kind of justice that we thing we and others deserve.
Labels: Allan Brevere
Friday, April 16, 2010
The International Monetary Fund has released a paper warning about the growth in sovereign debt.
The global economic crisis has resulted in the largest worsening of the fiscal accounts since the Second World War. In response to the crisis, government budgets have provided substantial support for aggregate demand and for the financial and other key sectors. In the process, fiscal balances have deteriorated, government liabilities expanded, and risks of future losses increased.The IMF warns that governments will have to take action to improve their budgetary and balance sheet positions.
While this fiscal activism has cushioned the adverse effects of the crisis, it is now necessary to articulate a strategy to ensure the sustainability of the public finances. It is too early to exit from crisis-response policies: despite some evidence of improvement, prospects for the global economy remain uncertain. However, it is vital to ensure that markets remain confident that governments have a strategy to move their budgetary and balance sheet positions to a situation of normalcy. Failure to do so would destabilize expectations, raise borrowing costs, and weaken the effect of the fiscal and monetary support now being provided.
They are dreaming. It will not happen!!
During the last two decades, a number of governments reduced their spending and were able to push through tax cuts, but those days are over.
Over the next few decades, commitments to loan repayment and a growing interest burden will prevent governments from reducing their spending. Most governments will have to increase taxation, just to meet existing commitments.
The capacity for modern governments to increase taxation is huge. Americans think they are overtaxed already, but the increase in taxation has only started. Sustaining the Beast that is emerging will require a huge increase in taxation. Unfortunately, the American economy has the capacity to sustain that sort of increase. It will not be pretty, but we should not surprised, because this is what happens when the state becomes our god.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
The need for Christian community is greatest in modern cities, where migration and urbanisation have broken down traditional community relationships. Social mobility prevents stable relationships from developing and family life is breaking down. People feel like cogs in a machine and life is characterised by loneliness and personal insecurity. In this bleak environment, people are crying out for real community. Each Church should be a Christian community. Community lifestyle will be normal for all Christians, not an optional extra for superstars and misfits. These communities can function in any city with whatever housing is available. Special buildings are not required and there is no need to move to the country. No money or assets are handed over to the Church. This eliminates a problem that has troubled many Christian communities. Community lifestyle will be open to everyone, regardless of their personal circumstances. Anyone will fit, provided they are committed to living the Christian lifestyle in relationship with the rest of the Church. Christians can live as part of a community while continuing with their existing work and interest activities. People will be free to choose their level of commitment and what they want to share. People can change their level of commitment according to their stage of life. Young single people may get really involved in community and sharing. Couples with younger children may need to withdraw slightly. If something goes wrong with the community, people can escape by moving to another house or “walking away” from the Church. This provides protection from the domination or control that has destroyed many Christian communities.
Unfortunately, most people do not see the modern church as an answer to their heart’s cry. It is seen as another institution that meets personal needs with programmes run by professionals.
A Church doing the one another stuff should be really attractive to those who are crushed and alienated by the impersonality of our modern world. Love will draw people into their community.
The church has a long experience with community, but it has generally been out of the reach of most Christians. A Christian community that is only open to an elite, or requires retreat from society, is irrelevant in the modern world. We need to bring community life down to earth, so it can function in a modern city.
True community can be built in city. I can see a city that is made up of a large number of Churches that are also small communities. Each community will involve of all the Christians living in a neighbourhood or apartment building. Love for Jesus will unite them together.
Christians should be leading the way and creating residential dwellings that will support a communal lifestyle. These should use resources efficiently, so that housing becomes affordable for everyone. Ironically, the only community-style housing developed by modern property developers are retirement villages for people that are “finished living”, and gated communities for those who are “scared of living”.
Community should not be a primary goal for Christians. Our goal is to live in total obedience to Jesus in fellowship with other Christians; community should be an unintentional by-product. The first Christians did not decide to live in community. By surrendering to Jesus and committing to fellowship they became a community by default.
A Church is a community of people living in the same locality and caring for each other within strong relationships. This full series of posts can be found at Radical Lifestyle Church.
Much of this material comes from my book Being Church Where We Live.
Each Church should be a Christian community. Community lifestyle will be normal for all Christians, not an optional extra for superstars and misfits.
These communities can function in any city with whatever housing is available. Special buildings are not required and there is no need to move to the country.
No money or assets are handed over to the Church. This eliminates a problem that has troubled many Christian communities.
Community lifestyle will be open to everyone, regardless of their personal circumstances. Anyone will fit, provided they are committed to living the Christian lifestyle in relationship with the rest of the Church.
Christians can live as part of a community while continuing with their existing work and interest activities.
People will be free to choose their level of commitment and what they want to share.
People can change their level of commitment according to their stage of life. Young single people may get really involved in community and sharing. Couples with younger children may need to withdraw slightly.
If something goes wrong with the community, people can escape by moving to another house or “walking away” from the Church. This provides protection from the domination or control that has destroyed many Christian communities.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Choosing to live in the same location will enable Christians who make the commitment to develop much stronger relationships and deeper fellowship. Living closer together makes the One Another Stuff and a sharing lifestyle much more practical. Spiritual protection will be more effective if Christians are closer to each other. Those who stand alone can be picked off one at a time by the evil one. A Church based in a neighbourhood will provide an environment where the radical demands of the gospel can be lived out in a simple, distinctive lifestyle. Strong Churches will supply an environment that supports family life through mutual support and economic sharing. People who have been really messed around by evil will receive intense emotional and spiritual support from Christians living around them. Poverty is a major challenge in many parts of the world. A Church could take responsibility for the poor in their neighbourhood and help them to climb out of poverty. In a hostile culture, community-based evangelism will be more successful than church-based evangelism. If there is only one church in the centre of town, most non-Christians will never go near it. By living together in the same locality, Church members will be on display in the neighbourhood where they live. Our dependence on the automobile is very risky. The Middle East is getting more unstable, as our dependence on it for oil increases. Every church leader should be thinking about how they will care for people prevented from driving to Church by an oil crisis. Locality-based churches will allow Tens and Hundred to emerge and societies to be restored.
Living closer together makes the One Another Stuff and a sharing lifestyle much more practical.
Spiritual protection will be more effective if Christians are closer to each other. Those who stand alone can be picked off one at a time by the evil one.
A Church based in a neighbourhood will provide an environment where the radical demands of the gospel can be lived out in a simple, distinctive lifestyle.
Strong Churches will supply an environment that supports family life through mutual support and economic sharing.
People who have been really messed around by evil will receive intense emotional and spiritual support from Christians living around them.
Poverty is a major challenge in many parts of the world. A Church could take responsibility for the poor in their neighbourhood and help them to climb out of poverty.
In a hostile culture, community-based evangelism will be more successful than church-based evangelism. If there is only one church in the centre of town, most non-Christians will never go near it. By living together in the same locality, Church members will be on display in the neighbourhood where they live.
Our dependence on the automobile is very risky. The Middle East is getting more unstable, as our dependence on it for oil increases. Every church leader should be thinking about how they will care for people prevented from driving to Church by an oil crisis.
Locality-based churches will allow Tens and Hundred to emerge and societies to be restored.
An important reason for Christians to live together is to create a spiritual stronghold where the Holy Spirit is able to move freely. Territory and geography are really important for spiritual warfare (Dan 10:20; Eph 1:21; 6:12). To defeat the strongholds of evil, we need to establish our own spiritual strongholds.
Engaging in effective spiritual warfare is very difficult, if we only meet intermittently. Christians living in isolation from other Christians can be outvoted in spiritual warfare for their locality. Soldiers can only defend each other, if they are in constant contact.
Getting spiritual victory over an entire city is hard, as all city authorities will have to be brought in unity. In contrast, two or three Christians moving into the same neighbourhood will be able to unite in prayer drive out the enemy.
When a locality becomes a spiritual stronghold for the Lord, the intensity of the Holy Spirit’s presence will increase. People with evil in their hearts may start feeling uncomfortable and move out of the area. Healings should become more frequent and winning people for the Lord should become easier. As the number of Christians living in the area increases the spiritual stronghold will expand.
When Jesus was speaking about spiritual warfare, he promised,
Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them (Matt 18:21).We assume that Jesus was talking about a prayer meeting, but spiritual warfare was a lifestyle for him, so he was probably talking about a shared lifestyle.
Establishing a beachhead in a strategic locality and then expanding outward is a very effective way to take a city. An army takes a city street by street and neighbourhood by neighbourhood.
Finding the right place to start will be important. The spiritual pressure in a city is not evenly distributed, so the battle will be tougher closer to the spiritual stronghold that dominates it. The best place to start will be where the spiritual opposition is weak, such as the edge of a suburb or the spiritual boundary between two evil principalities. Christians are often heroic and rush to the toughest part of the city, whereas a wise general attacks where the enemy is vulnerable.
Jesus did not start in the key cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, or Tiberias where Herod lived. He built a stronghold in the fishing town of Capernaum in Galilee, where the spiritual pressure was not as intense, before pushing out to other towns (Matt 9:1). He only went to Jerusalem at the end of his ministry, when he had strong support.
Labels: Spiritual Stronghold
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Church is something we are, not something we can attend. To be the body of Christ in the place where we live, we must live close to the rest of the body. Our Church should be a central part of our being, so we must belong where it is.
Each Church should be attached to a particular locality, so there can be as many Churches as there are different localities. Ideally, there should be one Church in each location and each location should have one Church. To have a number of different kinds of church in the same locality is inconsistent with the New Testament.
Being a Christian changes how we live; See Real Community.
it might also change where we live.
Monday, April 12, 2010
In recent years, many Christians have heard the call to start meeting in their homes. This is good, but it may not be enough. The full benefit of meeting in houses will only come, if Church members live close to each other. If we have to travel by car to get to our home meetings, strong Christian fellowship will still be very difficult to achieve.
I believe that God is calling us to be more radical than just meeting in houses. If Christians are living close to each other, it will be logical to meet in homes, but this should not be the goal. God is more concerned about how we live, than where we meet. Meeting in a house is pointless, if we no impact on the locality where we live. On the other hand, living close together is a waste of time, if we are unwilling to commit to the One Another Stuff.
Labels: House Churches
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Choosing to live close to other members of our Church is a different way of thinking. For most western Christians, choosing a church is a totally separate decision from choosing a place to live. When choosing a church, we look for one with a pastor and style that will we like. When choosing where to live, we look for a good capital gain or the best schooling for our children. Choosing to live in the same locality as our Church is a radical idea.
Those living in better suburbs might need to move to a less desirable area, where the entire Church can afford to live. They would be following the example of Jesus, who left his place in heaven and came to earth, for the sake of the church. This “incarnational attitude” would counteract the “home in the suburbs” idol that dominates much of the western world.
We are called to be the body of Christ where we live, so living within a short walk of the rest of the Church should become a normal part of Christian discipleship. This will require a much higher level of commitment, but being a Christian changes how we live, so why should it not change where we live?
If those starting a new Church focus their evangelistic efforts on the location where they live, most new converts will not need to move, as they will already live close to the rest of the Church. Converts from outside the neighbourhood should be encouraged to move nearer, or helped to find a Church closer to where they live. Only the people starting the new Church would need to change location.
Moving to one location may not be practical for all Christians. The disruption caused by so many people moving house or changing church might not be worth the effort. However, living in the same location should become normal.
Modern Christians drive to church.
The early believers were all together.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Lifestyle is a serious challenge for Christians wanting more of God. Our isolated lifestyle has become so entrenched that escape seems to be impossible. However, the hard truth is that we have chosen this lifestyle; it was not forced on us by the world. We cannot control over the location of our workplace, or where our interest groups meet, but we are free to choose where we live. The problem is that we have not used this freedom to strengthen our Christian fellowship.
We are free to reduce our isolation by choosing to live much closer other members of our Church. I believe that God is calling his people to stand apart from the spirit of the age by choosing to move closer to each other. Some will respond to the call by selling their house and buying one in the neighbourhood where their Church lives. Others will knock down the fences that divide them from their neighbours.
As the world is putting up stronger security fences and shutting out the world, Christians should be breaking down the barriers and opening themselves up to others. This should not really be that hard. Christians change houses all the time, to get a better view, a better job, or a better education. Buying a house close to a group of Christian friends should not be that difficult.
God’s call to Abraham was much tougher (Gen 12:1). He did not even know where he was going, and he never got to own a house in Canaan.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Christians who want to do the One Another Stuff face a serious obstacle. Modern suburban culture creates barriers to communication and encourages individualism. As communities are breaking down and fear is rising, high fences are going up between houses isolating people from each other. The consequence of this isolation is that most Christians do not belong to the community where they live.
Western society has been shaped by the automobile and the church has gone along for the ride. The car has brought great freedom, but we have paid a great price in loss of fellowship. Church has become something that we drive to. We usually have to get into a car to go to our home group, cell group or house church. This severely weakens the relationships between Christians, so most modern churches are almost as socially fragmented as the rest of society.
The close fellowship of the early Church was only possible because people lived close to each other. Building strong relationships is difficult, if we only meet once a week. We cannot "encourage one another daily", as the scriptures require (Heb 3:13). The sharing that was normal in the New Testament is difficult if people who do not live close to each other. For example, sharing a lawnmower is difficult for people who live far apart.
The best witness for Jesus should be the change in our lives, but for that to happen, people must see us living. At work our behaviour will be constrained by the requirements of our employer, so people really need to see us living when we are free to be ourselves. They need to see us living together where they live.
Church is something we are,
not something we can attend.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
When we get serious about loving one another, we will learn that love must be practical.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:16,17).Love is more than holding hands and singing “We are one in the bond of love”. Love requires sharing with those in need. Sharing was normal in the early church, as they expressed their love for Jesus and commitment to others.
Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need (Acts 2:45).Christian love produced a radically different attitude to possessions. Instead of being something to enjoy, they were seen as a gift from God to be used to strengthen the Church.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them (Acts 4:32-34).Sharing is important because it makes the gospel visible. Jesus promised that if we love each other, people will be drawn to him.
A new commandment I give you: Love one another
As I have loved you, so must you love one another.
All men will know that you are my disciples
If you love one another (John 13:34,35).
I when I am lifted up from the earth,The people of the world are entitled to look at a Church to see if its members love each other. The problem is that love is not easy to see. Forgiveness and encouragement will often not be visible to those outside the Church.
will draw all men to myself (John 12:32).
The best way for Christians to make their love visible is by sharing their possessions. People who live close by will see John driving Bill’s car. They will wonder why George still lives in comfort, when he has just lost his job. In a world where riches and poverty are normal, a Church with “no needy people” will be a very visible witness to the love of Jesus.
Churches that are serious about doing the One Another Stuff will start sharing quite naturally. Every Christian will aim to have something they can share with other members of the Church.
A sharing Church would be a tremendous testimony to people living close by. Christianity is not just a personal relationship with Jesus. His death on the cross also broke down the barrier of sin that divides us from other people. His people must demonstrate their restored relationships. In a world that is hungry for love, the best witness may not be a believer saying “Jesus loves me”, but a group of Christians freely sharing their possessions.
Sharing must always be voluntary. It must motivated by love and not by peer pressure. Demanding that someone share is never acceptable. It is a privilege, not a right.
Labels: Poor Sharing
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Home is the place where we like to meet with friends, so it is the best place to have fellowship. Being the body of Christ will be easier, if we go back to meeting in homes. Most Churches will meet in the lounge in the home of one of its members.
The early Christians were devoted to fellowship, so they met in their homes. Every day they continued to meet together… They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts (Acts 2:44, 45).Many Churches were known by the name of the person in whose house they met. We have a record of the Church in the house of Nympha (Col 4:14) and the Church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Cor 16:19). Each Church will be based in a house close to the home of one of its leaders.
In a city where the people live in apartments, Churches will look different, but the same principles should apply. The aim should be to have at least one Church in each apartment block. If a large number of people become Christians, each housing block might need several Churches on different floors of the building.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Many Christians believe that revival will come as the Holy Spirit moves in power in the body of Christ. We do need the Spirit, but this is not Ezekiel’s message. He warned that the Spirit cannot come in power until the body of Christ is joined together in strong relationships.
Ezekiel’s message is challenging and requires radical change. We will not experience the revival we long for until the body is joined together according to God’s plan (Eph 4:16). “Going to church” will not produce a revival. We cannot expect revival until we develop real fellowship based on strong relationships with other Christians.
This is a disturbing truth. If we are unwilling to be joined together in strong relationships, God’s ability to send revival is severely limited. He can pour out his Spirit, but he cannot force people to connect with each other. We have to decide to make that happen ourselves. We have to choose to be the body of Christ, by committing to strong relationships with other Christians.
Revival requires strong relationships,The first step to building strong relationships is to do to other Christians the things that the New Testament requires. Doing the One Another Stuff should bring a radical change in the way we relate to other members of our Church.
not going to church.
Monday, April 05, 2010
If the parts of the body are not joined together permanently the body becomes dysfunctional and the bones get dry. Ezekiel understood this very well. He saw a valley full of dry bones (Ezek 37). After he prophesied, they were joined and raised to become a mighty army. Ezekiel’s vision frequently quoted as a picture of the revival, but we often miss the key point.
When Ezekiel prophesied, the bones came together and tendons and flesh appeared. The bones were joined together and skin covered them. The breath of the Spirit could not come until the bones had to come together, bone to bone in a body. When Ezekiel prophesied again, the breath came into the bones and they stood up and became a mighty army.
A body is not built by throwing some bones in a basket.To become a mighty body empowered by the Spirit, the bones must be joined together. Each bone must be joined to at least two others by muscles and tendons. The correct bones must be joined in the right place. A body becomes dysfunctional, if just one bone is missing or is joined to the wrong bone.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Christians all over the world are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. As he was dying on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished”, but most of his followers do not believe this. They believe that Jesus had not finished the job. They believe that he died on the cross for our sins, but he did not do enough to get rid of sin and totally destroy the power of the devil. He did not do enough for the Kingdom of God to be established. Most Christians believe that Jesus will return at the end of the age to complete the job that he has not finished. His first effort did not the trick, so he will have to come back and finish it properly.
When Jesus said, “It is finished”, he was not speaking idle words. He was declaring that he had completed the task assigned to him and that he had done it properly.
The New Testament teaches that Jesus totally dealt with sin. He destroyed the power of the devil. He ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to live in every believer. He had done everything necessary to roll back the damage that had been done by the fall and bring in the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, he sat down at the right hand of God, who seemed to be pleased with what he had done. The common idea that Jesus has to return to complete his work is a lie of the enemy.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
Here is a personal question. You will have been to church meeting and prayer meetings many times in the last year, but when did you get together with a couple of believers in response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and go the place where he was led and look for a person he wanted to touch? Your answer to that question probably explains why you have not seen revival.
The Holy Spirit generally touches one person at time. However, a multiplication process, allows the number of being touched can increase rapidly. If the number of people willing to carry his presence into the world increases quickly, the process can snowball and grow into a mighty move of God. However, the pattern remains the same. A couple of a people are used by the Holy Spirit to touch another. Revival comes as that process is repeated thousands of times among many people in many places.
Instead of looking for bulk Holy Spirit moves, Christians should get together in pairs or trios and be led by him to the place where he wants to move and to the person that the wants touch. They Holy Spirit moves when two or three people get together in the place where he wants to be. If a couple of them are filled with the Spirit and one is hungry, the Holy Spirit can do his stuff.
Friday, April 02, 2010
If the Holy Spirit prefers to work through two or people who are committed to serving Jesus, then we need to find ways to get together with Christian friends. If the Holy Spirit wants to minister to another person, the pair of Christians will have to go to the place where they can find the unbeliever. The two or three Christians that the Holy Spirit wants to work through must come together They must come together at the time when the Holy Spirit leads. They must go to where the Holy Spirit wants to move. That place will usually be in the world, not a church or homegroup. They must find the person that the Holy Spirit wants to touch. They must know what the Holy Spirit wants to do, so they do not get in the way. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.
If the pair of Christians are not together, then the Holy Spirit cannot move. If the pair of believers are together but not in the same place as the unbeliever, the Holy Spirit cannot move. If the pair are in the right place, but they do not identify the person that the Holy Spirit wants to touch, the Holy Spirit will not be able to move.
Being led by the Holy Spirit is essential:
For this to happen, we must learn how to recognise the presence of the Holy Spirit. We will need to learn how to sense what he wants to do and who he wants to touch.
One day as Jesus was teaching….. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick (Luke 5:17).The presence of the Holy Spirit was there for a different purpose that day. Often he inspired Jesus to teach. This day he was there to heal, and Jesus recognised it.
This is the way that things happened in the New Testament. This is the way that the Holy Spirit prefers to work. If we want to be part of his move, then we must be willing to do things his way.
The two or three Christians that the Holy Spirit wants to work through must come together
They must come together at the time when the Holy Spirit leads.
They must go to where the Holy Spirit wants to move. That place will usually be in the world, not a church or homegroup.
They must find the person that the Holy Spirit wants to touch.
They must know what the Holy Spirit wants to do, so they do not get in the way.
The Holy Spirit will do the rest.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
The usual experience in the New Testament is quite different. God mostly touched people one at a time in twos or threes.
Where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them (Matt 18:20).The Holy Spirit prefers to work with groups of two or three. They must come together in Jesus name. That means that they are acting on his behalf, representing him to others. When a couple of people come together to represent Jesus, they Holy Spirit will be present with them.
Here is how it works. One person, or two friends, who are walking in the Spirit meet another person. That person is touched by the Spirit and turns to God. For example, in Acts 3 describes an incident where Peter and John met a lame man. They prayed for him and he was healed. I presume that he decided to follow Jesus. Only three people were involved, two of them Christians.
Philip was full of the Spirit when he met the Ethiopian politician on the South Road (Acts 8:26-40). The Holy Spirit touched the Ethiopians heart and he was baptised.
Even the 3,000 people, who were baptised on the Day of Pentecost would have been baptised one at a time by a couple of Christians. As they prayed for each person, they were filled with the Spirit.
In most the events described in the Book of Acts, one or two people walking in the Spirit ministered to an unbeliever. The person touched, healed, delivered chose to follow Jesus.
Sometimes a crowd would watch. Some would to go a Christian or pair of Christians and ask them about what they had seen. If the Spirit is with them, the seeker will be drawn to Jesus.
Sometimes the person touched will tell their friends. If someone is interested, the person who was touched will take them to meet with another Christian. If the Holy Spirit is present, the inquirer will be touched by him.
When Jesus sent out the seven-two disciples, they went in power pairs. They were his representatives. The Holy Spirit went with them and did mighty works. The key to his presence is two or three Christians going out into the world as representatives of Jesus.
These articles are here.