Thursday, July 19, 2018

Salvation (4) Two Holds

Following the fall, humans had two big problems, because the spiritual powers of evil had two holds over us.

  • They had taken humans captive and demanded a ransom. They had gained control and demanded a ransom before setting them free.

  • They also use the law to demand the death penalty for anyone who sins.

Both problems had to be solved.
  • Dealing with the accusations of the accuser was not enough. If the ransom was not paid they could keep them captive.

  • Likewise, paying the ransom was not enough on its own, because they could still prosecute them and demand the death penalty.

Jesus dealt with both problems.
  • The blood he shed on the cross satisfied the demands of justice. The accuser prosecuting the case against humans lost his power, because the penalty that he demanded was already paid by Jesus. Those who trusted in Jesus were declared innocent.

  • Jesus death was the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded. The death of the son of God was sufficient price earn the freedom of all humans. This was necessary, even once sin had been forgiven.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Salvation (3) Economic/Business

When humans sinned, they withdrew their submission to God’s authority and submitted to the authority of the tempter. By obeying his suggestion, they give him authority over their lives. They lost God’s protection and unwittingly placed themselves under the accuser’s authority.

The devil is a cheat, and once he gained a sliver of authority he used it to take humans captive. He refused to set humans free and demanded a ransom they could not afford before setting them free. The ransom that he demanded was blood.

Even when the prosecutor lost his court case because the judge declares the people accused to be righteous through faith in Jesus, the devil refuses to set them free. He does not care whether they are guilty or righteous, because he continues to keep them captive regardless. Even after they were declared righteous in God’s court, the spiritual powers of evil had a hold over humans. They had taken them captive and demanded a ransom before setting them free.

Jesus death paid the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded (1 Tim 2:6). He went into Hades and set the captured free. He did not use physical or spiritual force. He simply went to the devil and said that the ransom was paid. The life of the Son of God was so valuable that it paid the price for all humans. This left the spiritual powers of evil powerless. They had set their price so high, they thought that it could not be paid, but Jesus paid it. They had to set the captives free, because their demands had been met.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Salvation (2) Judicial/Forensic

The judicial forensic language used in the New Testament is often misunderstood. God is seen as demanding a death penalty for sin, but this is wrong.

Paul uses the language of a courtroom, but we must understand who undertakes the various roles.

  • Humans are in the dock. We are on trial.

  • God is the judge. He is righteous and good, so he will do right.

  • The defence lawyer/attorney is the Holy Spirit. He is called the paraclete (John 15:26). He comes beside us to work for our defence.

  • God is not the prosecutor. He is not the one bringing the charge against us. He is willing to forgive us because he loves us.

  • The prosecutor is the one with the name. Satan is the accuser who bring the charge against us. He is the prosecutor who demands the death penalty for our sin.

  • God is the law giver. He gave the law to enable his people to live together in peace. The prosecutor uses God’s law against his people.

God is willing to forgive the failings of the people he created and loves. However, the prosecutor demands the full penalty for sin. He says that it would be unfair if God forgave humans and let them off free, but refused to let Satan and the fallen angels off free.

God’s solution was to send his son to die. Jesus paid the penalty that the law requires and the accuser demands. His payment covers everyone who is united with him by faith. Those who trust him, died with him.

Why did God set up the world in a way where humans had the ability sin and the spiritual powers of evil had the right to demand the death penalty for sinners. We have to trust that God knew what he was doing. Anyway, looking at the amazing ability of humans, to think, to love to create, it seems that God did a great job.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Salvation (1)

I hate the way that some theologians say that there are many metaphors that point to the meaning of the cross, but that we cannot fully understand what the cross accomplished. The expressions used are not just metaphors. Something actually happened. The cross dealt with a real human problem(s) and we must be able to say what they are. If we cannot explain what the cross has done then we cannot really proclaim the gospel. Sharing metaphors is not enough. We must be able to explain what the cross does. We must be able to explain why Jesus had to die.

When Paul describes the effect of the cross he uses both judicial/forensic language and economic/business language. These are not different metaphors describing the same thing. Both are real effects that are important for understanding what Jesus achieved on the cross.

I will explain what these achieved in the next few posts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Spiritual Warfare

When praying against the spiritual powers that control a nation, God’s people should be careful.

  • Followers of Jesus should make sure that they are led by the Holy Spirit. Human efforts will fail. We need discernment to understand what we are dealing with, and wisdom to understand how to deal with it.

  • Authority is really important. I explain why in Kingdom Authority. Christians should be careful about taking on governing spirits that they do not have authority over. If a spiritual power has been given authority in a town, city or nation by its political leaders, ordinary citizens will not be able to push them out. Many Christians have been beaten up when they took on spirits that they did not have authority to deal with.

  • Prophesying God’s word into a situation is a good way to deal with political spirits and government spirits. Prophecy releases the angels and helps them know what to do. It also wears down government spirits.




Monday, July 09, 2018

Studying the Scriptures

I try to take a holistic approach to the scriptures. I attempt to avoid a proof-texting approach, as I believe it leads to distortions. I have been reading the entire bible over and over again for forty years. I did this to develop a biblical way of thinking. I now find it hard to think in any other way.

So when I come to a new issue, I do not just look for relevant proof texts, I bring the entire scriptures to it (that I have absorbed over many years). When I look at a particular scripture I often see things that others don’t, because I read it through the lens of the rest of the scriptures.

I also try to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. He often points me to other scriptures that I had not considered relevant to the issue.

When I write an issue up, I do not list every relevant scripture because there are usually too many.

I realise that my approach has some risk, but on the whole, I think that it has worked fairly well.

I do not claim that everything I write is absolute truth. I do not care if people reject some or all of my teaching. They are accountable for their own lives.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Kindle

I enjoy reading on my Kindle. It is easy to carry around and gives me access to a wide range of books. Shipping a paperback book from Amazon to New Zealand usually costs about $20.00, which is more than the book costs. A book has to be really good to justify the expense. Using my Kindle eliminates the shipping costs.

The other great thing about a Kindle is the ability to download a free sample of a book I am thinking about buying. I can read the table of contents, the introduction/preface and the first chapter of the book, before deciding whether to buy it. This supports a good decision.

Recently something annoying has started to happen. Christian authors have started filling the front of their books with vanity recommendations from big-name Christians. I presume that this is a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” activity, so I don’t take them seriously. Negative reactions will never get published, so the process is obviously biased.

I presume that publishers expect their authors to collect these recommendations. The problem is that most of them are so vague that they could be placed on many books and not look out of place.

I will not read a book because a big-name Christian says that it is good. The book might be helpful for them, but they do not know if it will be useful to me. I prefer to look at the content and decide if it is relevant to me. Unfortunately, this is getting more difficult to do, because the free sample is almost entirely made up of celebrity recommendations.

There are a few good exceptions. I recently downloaded a sample of The Devil’s Redemption by Michael J McClymond, which is a survey of attitudes to “universalism” throughout the history of the church. In hardcover, this book is 1376 pages long, so the free sample is quite substantial and not cluttered with junk. It included most of the first part of the book, which outlines his thesis and summarises his approach. Reading this gave me a good understanding of the book. The book is too heavy for me to digest, so I will not be buying it, but good on Michael for giving readers a useful sample.

I have several books available on Kindle. I refuse to fill the front of the book with recommendations. I want people to purchase my books, because they understand what the book is about and are interested in the topic. I do not want buyers being disappointed because they acted on a recommendation from someone who does not know them.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

OT Prophets

The OT prophets were not turned in automatons by the Holy Spirit. They were human just like us. They had the same Holy Spirit, but in a more hostile spiritual environment. It was not easy for them to hear the Holy Spirit. When they were learning, I assume they would have got things wrong from time to time.

The Holy Spirit made sure that their mistakes did not get into the prophetic books of the Old Testament (Isaiah to Malachi), so there are not examples of mistakes in these books. These books were their best work, not their first work.

There are examples where I presume that they spoke without being led by the Holy Spirit. That often happened when they became too attached to their words or their ministries.

  • Elijah calling down a bear attack on the cheeky youths seems to be an example, as Jesus ruled that kind of behaviour out.

  • Samuel got attached to Saul and found it hard to let go when God moved on and was blessing David.

  • Elijah told the people he was the only prophet of God left in Israel (1 Kings 18:22) although Obadiah had just told him that he has saved 100 prophets of the Lord by hiding them in caves (1 Kings 18:13). I presume that Elijah’s false statement opened the way for the spiritual powers behind Jezebel to attack him and fill with fear, causing him to run and hide.

Only Jesus lived a perfect life. The prophets of the Old Testament were special people, but they were not perfect, so we should not put them up on a pedestal. They had to learn to hear the Holy Spirit speak just as we do, and it is not easy.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Patriotism

Last night I read an article by a theologian comparing patriotism and nationalism. He said that patriotism is good, while nationalism is bad.

Patriotism can be loyalty to any or all of the following, but none are valid for the people of God.

  • Land
  • People
  • History
  • Government.
We need to think about each one separately.
  • All land belongs to God. He created all land and declared that it is all good. If we raise one piece of land above another, we are dishonouring God’s judgment about it.

  • God loves all the people of the world equally, so we must not raise one group of people above another. We cannot say that one group of people is better than another, because we do not them all, and we are not their judge.

    We are required to love the people in the part of the body of Jesus where we belong. We are also required to care for his body in other places. People who are not following Jesus belong to “the world”. They all need to hear the good news. We must not place one group of people of the world above another, because they are all in the same situation (vulnerable to the spiritual powers of evil). We must not be more loyal to some of the people of the world than to others.

  • We can only honour the history of a nation, if we forget about all the bad stuff that the nation has done, and only remember the good stuff. The history of all nations is full of ugliness. God is the judge of nations. We do not know enough to judge the history of our nation. If we honour the history of our nation, then we are believing a lie.

  • Some Christians want to celebrate their form of government, but we are to be loyal to the Kingdom of God, which is the Government of God. Loyalty to any other government is hostility to God. Confusing a human government with the Kingdom of God is a serious lie.

We must remember what Paul wrote to Timothy.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen (1 Tim 1:17).
We must be loyal to the King of Kings and celebrate his glory. Giving glory to anything else is idolatry.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Seventy

Jesus told the seventy disciples sent out to share the good news that they should take no money with them. Instead, they should stay with a person of peace and eat the food given to them (Luke 10:7).

This seems odd.

However, the seventy disciples were healing the sick and casting out demons, so they gave far more than the received. This makes a big difference.