Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Appearance of Angels

I believe that we cannot really understand what angels look like when they are operating in the spiritual realms. Our eyes and minds can only cope with a three-dimensional world. The spiritual realms are multi-dimensional, so we can’t even conceive what they look like.

When God lets humans see angels, he reveals them in a way that we can understand, and often the way that we expect them to be, so that we recognise them. Elijah’s servant saw riders on horses (2 Kings 6:17) That does not mean that angels ride horses. Rather God showed him the angels that way so that he would understand their power in battle. Isaiah saw them with three pairs of wings (Is 6:1). John in Revelation saw creatures that looked like a lion, an ox, a flying eagle. One had the face of a man (Rev 4:7-8). We see what God enables us to see, rather than what they are really like in the spiritual world.

When they operate on earth angels seem to take human appearance (Gen 18:2-8). They were able to walk, stand, eat food and eat, which suggests that they had legs, hands and mouths. Many of the biblical records of angelic visits to earth suggest that they appeared like humans. They were sometimes distinguished by bright clothing (John 20:12).

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Terrible Beast

If the Terrible Beast described in Daniel and the book of Revelation were to emerge in this season, you would expect to see the following.

  • A nation that claims to be a force for good, while doing much evil. Most of its people would be deceived by this claim.

  • A nation that is the strongest military power that has ever existed. It would love using military power.

  • It would use military power to trample down nations that oppose it.

  • A nation that would claim to be a force for peace, but have been at war for most of its history.

  • A nation with the strongest and richest economy that the world has ever seen.

  • It will use economic power to control other nations.

  • It would pretend to support free enterprise, but would use its economic power to prevent companies and peoples who will not submit to its power from buying and selling.

  • This nation would be an amalgam of independent states kept together by military force after a civil war.

  • A nation that tracks its legal and political lineage back to Greece and the Rome.

As this nation enjoys bullying weaker nations, so you would expect a bully to gain control over it.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Donald Trump in Daniel

If the Times of the Gentiles are to come to an end during our time (I am not certain that they will) then Daniel 11 needs to be fulfilled in our time too.

I take a “understand, wait and see” approach to Daniel’s prophecy. I try to understand what Daniel was saying in terms of our context, and then wait and see.

Christians should be familiar with these texts, so that they will realise if they are being fulfilled. You will not “see”, if you do not understand.

Last week, I was updating my study of Daniel 11 (see What Is Going On). I was surprised to come across Donald Trump in Daniel’s vision. I am not completely certain, but the parallels are disturbing. Have a look at what I found here.

I may be reading to much into Daniel 11 when I thought I saw Daniel Trump, but even if I am wrong, it confirms one thing, which is really scary. When the detestable ruler eventually comes out on the world stage, he will be supported by many evangelical Christians. Some liberal Christians will oppose him, but plenty of prophetic Christians will honour him. They have supported a man like this once, so there is no reason why they will not do it again.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Holy Spirit and Angels (5) Authority

The spiritual powers of evil get their authority to act from the people. The people with the greatest authority in nations can give them the greatest authority. That is why they work through political leaders and human governments. If a human government has given them permission to be there, the prayers of the saints cannot force them out.

The prophets and intercessors give the Holy Spirit and the angels authority to work. If they are a minority and they are rejected and persecuted by the people of the nation, they have very little earthly authority. This means that the Holy Spirit and the angels only have limited authority to work. This is why, at times, evil is able to dominate a nation.

Before the spiritual change can occur on earth, there has to be a switch in authority. The political leaders who are giving authority to the spiritual powers of evil have to give up and lose their place. The people of the nation have to respect the prophets and intercessors and give them authority. This shift in authority on earth will allow a shift in the balance of power in the spiritual realms. The spiritual powers of evil lose authority and the Holy Spirit and the angels gain authority.

The key is to understand that authority flows from earth to the spiritual realms. The battle in the spiritual realms is not a power game. The Holy Spirit always has more power. There are always twice as many angels as there are evils spirits. The battle in the spiritual realms is an authority battle. The outcomes in the spiritual realms are the consequence of the authority situation on earth.

Christians assume that powers in the spiritual realm determine what happens on earth and so they pray against them. Their premise is true, but misleading. The outcome of the spiritual struggle is determined by the authority situation on earth. The people with the greatest authority on earth determine the outcome of the spiritual struggle in the heavenlies.

Political leaders have the greatest authority in the modern world, because almost everyone submits to their government. That empowers the spiritual powers that control and manipulate them, because by agreeing with them, they give them authority. They currently have more authority than Christian prophets and intercessors. This stalemate will be broken when human faith in their governments and their coercive and military power collapse. The result will be a power shift in the spiritual realm that releases the Holy Spirit and the angels to do great things on earth.

See Collapse of Human Government.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Holy Spirit and Angels (4) Spiritual Powers of Evil

The spiritual powers of evil work in a totally different way. Groups of spirits are controlled by government-spirits (attached to a nation) or by a ruler spirit (attached to a sin, like destruction, death). They use anger, power, force and fear to bully and manipulate the spirits they control. In turn, they are controlled by cosmos dominators, which control even larger groups of spirits that are fighting with each other.

Evil spirits and grouping of evil spirits are always shifting loyalties. The hierarchies are massive and oppressive, but they are also fluid, as disputes occur and loyalties and fears shift. There are constraint intrigues and wars at all levels in the hierarchies. The only thing that unites them is hatred of Jesus and his people, but they often get distracted by hatred and fear of each other.

The dominant emotions are anger, fear, jealousy and hatred. They manifest works of the flesh in Gal 5:19-21. Every bad attitude warned against in the NT exits amongst them.

The spiritual powers of evil have a communication problem. Spirits at the bottom level only know what to do as a message comes down the hierarchy, so they just do their own thing. The spirits at the top of the hierarchies are limited to place and time, so they are not all-knowing and omnipresent like the Holy Spirit, which means their communication and organisation is totally different. They have to use hierarchies of control. However, they cannot always see what their armies are doing, so their commands are often wrong. Their commands are often distorted by the time they pass down the hierarchy. It is easy for clever deceiving angels from God to slip in wrong commands. Communication is difficult, and lines of communications are often broken as loyalties shift.

The contrast between the operation of angels and the works of the spiritual powers of evil is stark. If more Christians understood the difference, they would realise how feeble their enemy really is.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Holy Spirit and the Angels (3)

The Holy Spirit and the angels operate in perfect unity. The Holy Spirit speaks to the angels and they gladly do what he asks them to do.

There is no hierarchy or control amongst the angels of God, as it is not needed.

Archangels are not ruler-angels. They are angels that specialise in dealing with ruler/government spirits, like Michael dealt with the Prince of Persia (Jude 1:9 and Dan 10:13). A hierarchy is not needed because the Holy Spirit is not constrained by space and time, so he can speak to any angel any place any time. He can always get an angel to do what he wants done. He knows where they are and what they are all doing.

Angels work together in teams as the Holy Spirit guides them along the same path. He puts them in teams with complementary skills and tells them how to work together.

Gods angels are peaceful and happy in doing their work. They constantly praise God and have fun working together with each other.

There is harmony of purpose and peace between them. They manifest the fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22).

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Holy Spirit and the Angels (2) Angels

Angels respond to the prayers and prophecies of the saints. They act when given authority by a person with authority on earth. Frank Peretti’s Piercing the Darkness is wrong when it gives the impression at the end of the book that more Christians shouting louder gives angels more power. One person with authority in a situation is sufficient to release angels to do the will of God. (The problem is that in many situations, there is no Christian with sufficient authority).

Whereas the Holy Spirit is spirit and needs a person to work through on earth, angels are spirits with the ability to do things in the physical world. In this context:

  • Angels can prevent evil spirits of various kinds from acting (Dan 10:13).

  • They can provide for protection for servants of Jesus (Dan 12:1).

  • Some evil spirits can prevent angels from operating, if they have greater rank, ie many evil spirits are working for them (Dan 10:12).

  • Angels can carry messages to God’s people.

  • They can strengthen God’s people in their struggle (Matt 4:11). I presume by physically strengthening and chasing away harassing evil spirits.

  • Angels can provide food and other physical needs for Gods people (1 Kings (19:6).

  • Angels can deceive the enemies of God, people and evil spirits (1 Kings 22:22). The angels that gather the nations for battle are deceiving angels. They deceive the spiritual powers that control the nations. They also deceive the leaders of the nations.

  • During a physical war, angels can disrupt the enemies of God’s people (2 Kings 6:17).

    • Blind them, so they go to the wrong place (2 Kings 6:18).
    • Stir up wild animals and dangerous insects (Deut 7:20)
    • Send down hailstones and other forms of bad weather (Jos 10:11).
    • Direct their weapons accurately (1 Sam 17:49).
    • Do things to makes soldiers fear and flee (Jud 7:13).
    • Cause soldiers to fight against each other (Jud 7;22; 2 Chron 20:23)).
    • Confuse military leaders to think the defenders are stronger than they are (2 Sam 5:24)/
    • Angels can set up ambushes (2 Chron 20:22)
    • Send sickness and plague amongst the enemy army (Is 37:36)
    • Cause rebellion against political leaders (2 Chron 32:21).
    • Angels can strike down enemy soldiers (2 Sam 5:24)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Holy Spirit and the Angels (1)

A reader asked the following question.

How do the Holy Spirit and the angels operate on earth?
I will provide an answer in the next few posts.

Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit works in people, who are have chosen to follow Jesus. He empowers them through the gifts, giving them knowledge about what is going to happen and wisdom to know what to do. He heals sick people and forces evil spirits to leave the people that they pray for.

He works more effectively in a body than in individuals acting alone.

The Holy Spirit also speaks to angels and tells them what to do. He articulates God’s will for them.

The Holy Spirit can put ideas into the hearts of kings (Ezra 7:27). If they are persuaded by the thought, they will act on God’s will, even though they do not know him.

Monday, June 10, 2019

D-Day

An article by Eric Margolis provides an excellent corrective to the standard Hollywood narrative, from which most people learn their history these days.

Note: Russia lost to Germany’s Nazis, 13,950,000, or exactly 12.7% of its population. Another part of the Soviet Union, Belarus, lost 2.29 million, or exactly 25.3% of its population to Hitler. Another part of the USSR, Ukraine, lost 6.85 million, or 16.3%. The entire Soviet Union lost 26.6 million, exactly 13.7% of its population to Hitler.

The US lost only 419,400, or 0.32% of its population.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Social Conservatives

Damon Linker on the dilemma of the Religious Right.

When social conservatives thought they were the moral majority, it made sense for them to dream of exercising real political power. When they recognized that they were a minority, it made sense for them to resign themselves to adopting a defensive posture and preparing to live out their days in a country as dissenters from the reigning liberal consensus.

What makes no sense is for social conservatives to think they can be both weak and strong at the same time — a minority that wields the power of a majority.

What's clear is that the available options are limited. If the religious right isn't prepared to accept its minority status and settle for availing itself of the religious-liberty protections afforded by the liberal state as an adequate fallback position in the culture war, it will end up tempted to abandon democracy.

It will be tempted, in other words, to throw its weight behind any political figure or movement, no matter how dubious its democratic legitimacy, that promises to do away with the liberalism it increasingly views as its mortal enemy.

The solution to this dilemma is the Government of God.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Worse than What

When Jesus sent out his apostles he told them to go to town in Israel and stay there.

As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet (Matt 10:12-14).
Jesus wanted them to go to places where the Holy Spirit was working. If the response was hostile, they should leave.
Then Jesus said something that is hard to digest.
Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town (Matt 10:15).
Sodom and Gomorrah are considered to be the worst of the worst. These towns were a hotbed of sexual immorality. Most Christians believe that it will be terrible for those towns on the day of judgment. Yet Jesus is saying that it will be worse for the towns that reject the apostles than it will be for Sodom and Gomorrah. How can that be?

The “hell” people believe that the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah will be tormented in hell for all eternity, so Jesus’ comment is hard to fit. The torment of the towns rejecting the apostles cannot be longer than eternity. The only other possibility is that the fire could be hotter for them, but that does not make sense.

The real meaning of Jesus’ words is that the last judgment will be more complicated than we can handle. Those who have trusted in Jesus will receive a different reward, depending on what they have done on earth. The same applies to those who do not receive Jesus. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah sinned badly, but they did not have the Holy Spirit working in their midst. They had not heard the gospel. They were enslaved by the spiritual powers of evil, so it is not clear how responsible they were for their actions.

I don’t know what their fate will be, but it will better than that of the towns of Israel who heard the gospel and rejected it. The scriptures do not tell us how this will work, so we should not pretend that we do.

We would like the final judgment to be black and white, but Jesus is saying that it will be incredibly messy. Fortunately, we do not have to make decisions about the fate of people who have not given their lives to Jesus. God has given that responsibility to Jesus. And just as Jesus confused his listeners in the first century, many of his decisions will shock us, too.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Future and Past

Gilad Atzmon has an explanation of political behaviour.

The Left’s vision of temporality is a linear structure of historical progress that proceeds from ‘a past’ to ‘a future.’ Left ideology is structured around an ever progressing time line. The Left always promises to make things better in the future, to fight austerity, to care for the many not the few, to bring about equality and tolerance, etc. None of this is happening at present. This leaves the Left as a promise that is supposed to fulfill itself in an imaginary ‘tomorrow.’

But this is not how the Right’s political argument is structured. In fact the Right and Fascist argument is far more sophisticated from a metaphysical perspective. In my recent book, Being in Time, I contend that the Right ideologist understands that for the working class, utopia is ‘nostalgia.’ Trump won his voters’ trust by promising to make America great again. He vowed to plant the past in the future, reversing the time line. He promised to march America backward. Nigel Farage is using the same tactic, appealing to the same sentiments. He promises to make Britain a kingdom again not just a corner island in a dysfunctional globalist setting, a.k.a the EU. Farage is riding on the longing for a better past.

Within the context of Left thinking, past, present and future are chronological, set to follow each other in consecutive order. Within Right wing philosophy, time’s tenses change positions irregularly. Trump and Farage put the ‘past’ in the future. They promise to march us back. They appeal to the masses because the human spirit, in its search for unity, transcends linear chronology. The Right wing ideologist capitalises on the human search for essence, for a logos and for transparency. In this regard, humans are historical creatures. They are capable of seeing the future in the past and vice versa.

Many Christians are caught in the same trap, wanting to go back to an imagined golden age.

Jesus came to the earth, and the sent the Holy Spirit to bring the Kingdom of God. The best of the Kingdom lies in the future, and we have the Holy Spirit as a guarantee. We must prepare in the present, for the full blessing of the Kingdom when the Holy Spirit delivers it in fullness.

Monday, June 03, 2019

A Non-apology Apology

A non-apology apology is a statement in the form of an apology that does not express remorse. It is common in both politics and public relations.

Saying "I'm sorry you feel that way" to someone who has been offended or hurt by a statement is a non-apology apology. It does not admit there was anything wrong with the remarks made, and may imply the person took offence for hypersensitive or irrational reasons.

Harriet Lerner writes that a good apology has six important elements.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Trade Wars

I am intrigued by arguments about who will win a trade war between China and the United States. Those who think life is only about winning and losing have watched too many Westerns.

There are few real winners in a trade war. Just like military wars, the winners usually find out too late that the costs of winning were much greater than they expected. For example, Britain and the United States thought that they won the second world war (started to defend Poland), but found that all of Eastern Europe was controlled by the Soviet Union.

In the same way, no one really wins a trade war. There will be winners and losers in the United States, and there will be winners and losers in China. We can be certain of two things. The winners in both countries will be the businesses that collude with government to protect their patch.

The unintended secondary consequences will fall far and wide in unexpected places and be more severe than expected. Just as with military war, the losers in both countries will be the ordinary people who get caught in the crossfire.

We should not trust political leaders who think that war is a good thing, whether military or economic.

The questions that Christians should be asking is what are the spiritual powers of evil intending to accomplish through a trade war. War of any kind increases their freedom to operate.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Planks

Jesus said that we should take the plank out of own eyes before we try to remove a speck from another person’s eye.

Zeynep Tufekci gives a good example of this challenge in a comment about Fundamental Attribution Error

We also have a bias for the individual as the locus of agency in interpreting our own everyday life and the behavior of others. We tend to seek internal, psychological explanations for the behavior of those around us while making situational excuses for our own. This is such a common way of looking at the world that social psychologists have a word for it: the fundamental attribution error.

When someone wrongs us, we tend to think they are evil, misguided or selfish: a personalized explanation. But when we misbehave, we are better at recognizing the external pressures on us that shape our actions: a situational understanding. If you snap at a coworker, for example, you may rationalize your behavior by remembering that you had difficulty sleeping last night and had financial struggles this month. You’re not evil, just stressed! The coworker who snaps at you, however, is more likely to be interpreted as a jerk, without going through the same kind of rationalization. This is convenient for our peace of mind, and fits with our domain of knowledge, too. We know what pressures us, but not necessarily others.

Christians can easily fall into this trap by making excuses for our behaviour, while denying that privilege to others.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sacrament

Alan Streett gets this right.

I am convinced that most churches incorrectly define the term sacrament. In the first century a sacrament (Latin, sacramentum) was a common term that described a soldier’s pledge or oath to serve Caesar as Lord. It was his promise of fidelity to the emperor and empire. The early Christians adopted the word for use and applied it to baptism. At baptism believers pledged their allegiance to Jesus as Lord and promised to forsake all other lords.

Jerome (ca 345–430 CE) was the first to redefine sacrament as a mystical event in which God imparts grace to the believer.

While some Christian communities view baptism as a vehicle for transmitting salvific grace and others view it only as a symbolic act or ordinance, I believe both views fall short of the mark. Baptism in NT times was a person’s public sacramentum or vow of commitment in sight of witnesses to serve Christ regardless of cost. In this sense baptism was a status-changing ritual.

Faith is allegiance to a different Rescuer and Political Leader.

Monday, May 27, 2019

David

Reading about King Jehoshaphat this morning, I noticed something I had not seen before.

The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father David’s earlier days (2 Chron 17:3).
God was with him, when he lived the way that David lived in his early days.

Many Christians have made a hero of David, but we need to be careful. David started really well. He loved and served God wisely as a young man.

However, at the end of his life, he made some serious mistakes. He committed adultery, and murder to cover it up. He had troubles with his children that he did not resolve. He organised a census that God did not want.

There are two lessons here.

  • We must not gold-plate David. Jesus is the only one who lived a perfect life. We should model our lives on him, not on David.

  • It is not enough to start well. We must all endeavour to finish with the same zeal and love for God that we had when we began. That is a serious challenge for every follower of Jesus.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Miciah

The prophet Miciah gives an interesting insight into how God accomplishes his purposes in situations where he does not have authority.

Jehoshaphat was a good king, but he had formed an alliance with Ahab through marriage. Ahab was keen on war and persuaded Jehoshaphat to join him in a war against Aram. The court prophets urged the two kings to go to war and promising that they would win easily (1 Kings 22:1-6).

Ahab and Jehoshaphat went to war, but were easily defeated. Ahab was killed and Jehoshaphat nearly lost his life (1 Kings 22:29-37).
God had a purpose to achieve in this situation. He worked through his prophet Miciah to accomplish this purpose. Miciah explained what God would do to advance his plans.

I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’

“‘By what means?’ the LORD asked.

“‘I will go out and become a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it’ (1 Kings 22:19-22).
There are two important things to note.
  • The spirit that deceived the court prophets came from God. It was a good spirit. However, it went and became a deceiving spirit in the mouths of the court prophets. God gave these prophets a false message by sending a good spirit to deceive them.

  • God said that this spirit would be successful in deceiving the court prophets. The reason why knew a deceiving spirit would succeed was that a warring violent spirit was already at work amongst them. This spirit was revealed when one of the leaders of the court prophets (Zedekiah son of Kenaah) confronted Miciah. He struck Miciah on the face (1 Kings 22:24). The warring, violent spirit had such a stronghold in his life, that he could not respond to someone challenging his point of view without resorting to violence.

There is an important lesson here. Prophets with violence in their hearts and prophets who love war are vulnerable to a spirit of deception.

The same mechanism seems to be at work in Pompeo and Bolton.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Politics

A year out from the next general election in New Zealand, Christian leaders are being drawn into talk about forming a new political party to contest the election.

One leader says that he wants to make a stand against the four big issues of abortion, euthanasia, genderism and homosexuality. Unfortunately, when Christians campaign on these issues, the fear, anger and hatred that pervades the modern church is exposed. When people see the lack of love and compassion, they will react with hostility. The media will have a field day.

Another leader says that the government is not supporting Christian values. The problem is that New Zealanders no longer support Christian values. They like what the church does when it cares for the weak and vulnerable (the Salvation Army still gets strong support). However, they intensely dislike some of the things that the church stands for and the way that it operates. People have adopted different values and now place tolerance and inclusiveness as their highest value. They still believe in some Christian values, such as generosity, forgiveness, kindness, but they will no longer accept the entire package of so-called Christian values.

Christians cannot blame the government or the media for the rejection of their values. They have failed to proclaim the gospel to the nation in the power of the spirit, so the percentage of the population that follows Jesus has dropped significantly. When Christian values do not flow out of love for Jesus and the fruit of the Spirit, they become harsh and sterile. Only the gospel and the Spirit can change that.

Christians claim to believe in grace, not law. They acknowledge that laws cannot change human hearts. Yet when grace is rejected, they always seem to fall back on using law to change people’s behaviour. They want to use the power of the state to enforce Christian morality. Unfortunately, using laws in this way always fails, and creates hostility to the Christians who try to impose their laws on people who do not want them.

When Christians use political power to impose their morality, they are seen as legalistic and hypocritical, and the gospel of grace gets lost in the smoke.

I don't understand why people with the wonderful gospel supported by the glorious Holy Spirit would prefer to rely on law and political power, as it turns the good news into bad news.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Solomon and Sheba

The queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon in Israel. She was amazed by his wisdom.

When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed (2 Chron 9:3-4).
The queen was overwhelmed by what she saw. She gave honour to Yahweh, because she recognised him as the God of Israel, but probably not of Sheba.
Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne as king to rule for the LORD your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and his desire to uphold them forever, he has made you king over them, to maintain justice and righteousness (2 Chron 9:3-4).
It was good that she acknowledged Yahweh, but this was not really what he wanted. God’s desire for the nations was different. Moses explained the desire of God in Deuteronomy.
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today (Deut 4:5-8).
God wanted the Israelites to implement his law. When they brought blessing, the nations would see and want to copy them. God’s plan was kings of other nations would see the greatness of his law and choose to implement it in their own nation.

Unfortunately, the queen of Sheba did not see the benefits of God’s law. She saw a great king, with great wisdom. She could not copy that. Because Solomon had not applied God’s law, she did not see the benefits of it.

Modern Christians fall into the same trap. We get seduced by great political leaders, and fail to understand the Government of God is radically different.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Thorn in the Flesh

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul claimed that he had been caught up into paradise on a couple of occasions and seen things that he could hardly describe (2 Cor 12:1-6). He did not record them in any of letters.

Paul then explained that God gave him a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from becoming conceited because of the greatness of these revelations. He explains that this was a messenger sent from Satan to torment him (2 Cor 12:7).

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!
Commentators have discussed the nature of the “thorn in the flesh. Most believe that it was some physical disability. Some have suggested that Paul was short-sighted. A couple suggested that he had bad headaches. Another suggested that he was afflicted with ear infections. One suggested that he had a bad toenail infection. These commentators missed the point, because they failed to understand what Paul actually wrote.

When Paul asked for the thorn in the flesh to be removed, God refused, but said,

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness (2 Cor 12:9).
Paul understood this truth and responded by boasting about his weakness, so that the power of Jesus could rest on him. He then explains the nature of the weakness and describes how he responds.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:10).
He delights in insults, hardships and persecutions, because when they make him weak, he becomes strong in the Spirit of Jesus. But that is exactly what he had already explained that thorn in the flesh does. The weakness it causes makes him strong in Jesus.

The thorn in the flesh is the hardship, beatings and persecution that Paul experienced. A person who was radically pursuing God’s will like Paul could claim that God would protect from all trouble, but that had not happened. A spiritual power had been given authority to attack him.

Paul does not say that God sent this evil power. Rather, Paul was working in areas where the political and religious leaders had given spiritual principalities and power permission to work. By going into Asia Minor, Paul was working into enemy territory. This meant that the powers of evil had authority to stir up the political and religious leaders to attack Paul in an attempt to disrupt his message. Paul describes the nature of their attack in the previous chapter (2 Cor 11:23-25). The list of his trials is alarming.

  • Jail — Frequently
  • Cuts and scars — Exceedingly numerous
  • Beating to near death — Numerous
  • 39 lashes — 5 times
  • Beating with rods — 3 times
  • Stoned — 1 time
  • Shipwrecked — 3 times
These sufferings were caused by the spiritual powers of evil that had authority to attack him while he was in enemy territory. They did the worst they could, but the power of Jesus did even greater things Paul despite his sufferings. His mission was stopped, but was strengthened.

Why did Paul use the expression “thorn in the flesh”. When I read the list above, my first thought was that Paul experienced even worse physical sufferings than Jesus. But Paul would not want anyone to think that, so he described his suffering as a thorn in the flesh.

Jesus wore a crown of thorns. The thorns pressing into his head represented the terrible pain that he had to bear on our behalf. Paul said that his sufferings were like only one thorn pressing into his flesh, to indicate that his suffering was far less than born by Jesus.

Whereas, Jesus wore a crown of thorns, Paul was annoyed by just one trivial thorn. His trials were real, but they were minuscule compared with what Jesus carried on the cross. That's how Paul saw it anyway. An he rejoiced in his sufferings, because they allowed him to experience the power of the Spirit.

If we follow Jesus and Paul and go into enemy territory to share the gospel we will sometimes be attacked by the spiritual powers with authority in that place, as they try to hold back the gospel. However, whatever we suffer is just one thorn in our flesh. We don’t get a crown of thorns pressed onto our heads like Jesus. Better still, our sufferings release the power of the Spirit.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

God is Good

The core of the gospel message is that God is good.

Many people find this hard to believe. Life often seems to be stacked against them. Judging by their life experiences, they assume that God (if he exists) is mean, nasty and capricious. They feel like God enjoys playing tricks on them and making life miserable.
Jesus came with the message that Good is good. He healed the sick and cast out evil spirits to prove it.

The bad stuff that happens to people results from bad choices. More often bad experiences are the result of the spiritual powers of evil being mean and nasty. The bad news is caused by the bad guys, not be God.

The good news is that Jesus can redeem our bad choices and turn them into good. The best news is that Jesus came to deliver people from the control of the spiritual powers of evil. He wants to set crushed and broken people free to truly experience God’s goodness.

This world was created by a God who is good. That is good news.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Blessed are the Merciful

I am always amazed when Christians, who have experienced God’s gracious forgiveness through Jesus, want God to be really nasty to those who have rejected it. They seem to like the doctrine that people who have rejected Jesus will be tortured for eternity.

Fortunately, that ugly doctrine is not true, but why would people who have benefitted so much God’s love and grace want it to be true. Surely people who have received such immense and undeserved generosity from God would be praying, “Please show grace and forgiveness to them too”.

Blessed are the merciful (Matt 18:23-35).

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Accused Woman

This morning when reading the New Testament, I came across the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-13. When the Pharisees brought her to Jesus, he did not accuse her, but drew in the dust on the ground. Most commentators claim that Jesus was showing that mercy is greater than the law, but that is not right. Jesus showed mercy, but he also applied the law more correctly than the Pharisees.

Commentators also speculate about what words he wrote that caused the crowd to slowly disperse, but they have missed the point. Jesus did not write any words. If he had, such powerful words would have been recorded. Every male should understand what he was doing. He doodled in the dust on the ground, because he wanted the people gathered to realise where he was looking.

Jesus was the only man in the crowd, who was not looking at the woman, and he wanted them to notice. (No women were there, because the Pharisees would not have allowed a woman to be a witness).

This woman had been "caught in adultery, in the very act". Women in those times wore a single garment. They did not have fancy lingerie. So, she would have removed her garment while she was engaged in the adulterous act. When they dragged her out of the house and placed her in front of Jesus, she would have been standing naked. Her lack of clothing during the middle of the say was proof of their claim that she had been caught in adultery.

I presume she was an attractive woman, or she would not have been in this situation, so every man in the crowd would have been ogling her. Except Jesus, who was looking at the ground. When they noticed that Jesus was not looking at her, they would remember that Jesus had taught on the nature of adultery.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus and made her stand in front of him. They demanded that he condemn her. They were testing Jesus to see if he would apply the law of Moses. However, Jesus understood the law better and applied it correctly to this situation.

The law has specific requirements for witnesses. Firstly, a person can only be convicted of a crime if there are two or three witnesses to it.

One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offence they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deut 19:15).

The Pharisees and teachers of the law understood this, so they stood the woman in front of the crowd and claimed to be witnesses who had caught her in the act.

Jesus knew that the law had a second requirement. The witnesses must not have committed the crime they are testifying against. Adulterers cannot testify against adulterers. A witness who has committed the same crime is a false witness (Deut 5:20). Jesus reminded the teachers and Pharisees of this requirement, when he said,

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7).

This was not a new idea, it was a requirement of the law of Moses.

After saying these words, Jesus continued doodling on the ground. Every man in the crowd would have noticed that Jesus was not looking at the naked woman, and have remembered that Jesus had taught on the nature of adultery.

I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt 5:28).

As they looked at the naked woman, and noticed Jesus had not, they would realise that they had committed adultery where they were standing. They had disqualified themselves as witnesses, because they were guilty of the crime that they were accusing her of committing. There was no alternative but to leave before Jesus revealed their sin.

When they had all gone, Jesus looked at her. He was probably the only man on earth who could do that without sinning. However, he had not witnessed her sin, so he could not condemn her. He told her to leave, and to stop sinning.

There was no witness, who was not guilty of the same sin, so the woman could not be convicted of a crime. Therefore, Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law of Moses, he did not set them aside.

Jesus did more than that. He demonstrated that the adultery laws could not be applied. Given the nature of human hearts, it would be impossible for three men to observe a man and a woman completing an act of adultery without committing the same sin by lusting after the woman. If they did not do it at this time, they would have done so previously. Therefore, there could never be innocent independent witnesses to testify against the adulterers. Adultery is an unenforceable crime.

This was not new. Moses understood this. Jesus had already explained that Moses did not enforce the laws against adultery.

Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard (Matt 19:8).

Moses did not apply the penalty of exclusion for adultery, because he understood human hearts and knew that he could not get three independent, innocent witnesses who had not committed the same sin. Instead, he allowed divorce as a pragmatic solution to the problem.
Jesus did not change Moses' standard.

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery (Matt 19:9).

Jesus did not abolish the law that required exclusion for adultery (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:21). He left it on the books, to demonstrate God's abhorrence for this sin. It is a serious evil that undermines society from the inside out. Jesus also confirmed that this law should not be enforced, because human hearts are not up to it.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Paradox of Democracy

Silvio Simonetti comments about the Paradox of Democracy.

There is a perverse logic that has been commanding human history at least since the French Revolution: The growth of the state’s power. Regardless of the rhetoric employed, every political action has invariably been expanding the power of governing groups over individuals. The state – and the bureaucracy that accompanies it – has increasingly occupied a central role in social interactions and it has slowly replaced old institutions like the Church as mediators of social relations.

The paradox of democracy – in which the people namely rules and the bureaucracy effectively does – prevails despite the will of political agents. The construction of a bureaucratic authoritarianism under the excuse of democratic progress is not an ideological matter insofar as an ideology does not allow the existence of the bureaucracy’s power; on the contrary, it justifies its exercise for the masses. Ideology confers an emotional veneer and helps to break down resistances toward the relentless exercise of the power to govern. However, ideologies are not the engines of power. Power obeys a dynamics of its own that must be understood to be controlled.

Democracy’s dynamic is not unique to this political system. Quite the contrary, the concentration of the power of command and its exercise by a ruling class is a constant in all human political associations. What is striking in the case of modern democracies is the accentuation of this phenomenon precisely at a time when the myth of the increase of both individual liberties and political participation has become universal. The more the reality of the exercise of power is covered by rhetorical layers that celebrate the achievements of human rights, the more relentless the control of the bureaucratic state over individuals becomes.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Jesus Forsaken??

Many preachers claim that Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” because God the Father had deserted him (Matt 27:46). The idea is that the huge weight of human sins placed on Jesus caused God to turn his face and withdraw his presence from him.

This teaching does not make sense.

Sin is a thought or action. Once a sin or thought is completed, it no longer exists. It becomes an event in the past. What remains is the consequences of the sin. There are three four consequences. The sins themselves do not have any weight, because they disappear into the past, but the consequences can be weighty.

  • Shame and guilt that the person sinning feels. This shame can carry on a long time.

  • Obligation to pay any penalties required by God’s law. God does not demand that these be paid, but the spiritual powers of evil do demand their implementation.

  • Obligations to human courts (these end with death so they are not relevant to this discussion).

  • Requirements to pay a ransom to the powers of evil. If the person sinning submits to them, they have authority over the sinner, and will not let them free without a payment of the ransom.

Jesus died on our behalf. God made him sin so we could be set free.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21).
God made Jesus sin, but he did not sin on our behalf. He did not need to do the same sins as we had done to rescue us. He was not doing our sins when he died upon the cross. He could not carry our sins, because they were events in the past. He could not carry them, because they no longer exist (they are not kept in a box somewhere). What he had to deal with on the cross was the consequences of those sins, which continued on.

Jesus died that we might be set free from the consequences of our sin. He did not carry our sins themselves, because they belong to us, so our sin could not separate him from God. Jesus did not sin prior to the cross, or on the cross, so there was no sin that could separate him from the father. He was doing what the father asked him to do, not sinning.

Jesus did not feel our shame or guilt when he was on the cross. He was obeying God, so he did nothing to produce shame. He did not deal with our shame by taking it from us. Rather he dealt with the shame by delivering God’s forgiveness to us. Once we know that God has forgiven us, the basis for the shame disappears.

Jesus' death was the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded for the release of God’s people. That was the price Jesus was paying on the cross. They also demanded the penalties specified in the law for all human sins. Jesus dealt with the consequence of sin by dying for our redemption.

When he agreed to die the cross, he placed himself in the hands of the Roman governor and soldiers who would crucify him. He was not just submitting to them, but also to the spiritual powers of evil that controlled them. This is why Jesus' death on the cross brought him so much anguish. The spiritual powers of evil were free to torment him in any way that they chose.

My understanding is that in Jesus time, the Psalms were not numbered, so they were referenced by quoting the first line. So when Jesus said, "My God, why have you forsaken me", he was really crying out "Psalm 22". Jesus was saying that the prophecy of the psalm was being fulfilled in his death.

Psalm 22 explained what was happening to Jesus. He was surrounded by hostile evil spirits. These are the bull, lions and dogs that the Psalmist refers to. Jesus submission to the Jewish leaders and the Roman governor gave them authority to attack and torment him.

Jesus was not alone, because God was angry with sinful humans. Because the father loves the son, he felt or the agony that Jesus felt. However, the father could not rescue Jesus, as he would usually do, if Jesus called out for help (Psalm 22:5). God had to leave Jesus to face death on his own, because only a man could pay the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded. This was not God’s will. He would have preferred to rescue Jesus. However, the spiritual powers of evil demanded the payment of a perfect human life for the redemption of the humans who had come under their control.

The spiritual powers of evil forced the Father to allow Jesus to suffer alone on the cross. He hated doing that, but he did it because that was the only way that Jesus could pay the redemption fee and set humanity free from bondage to the spiritual powers of evil. God suffered with Jesus, but separately, so that his death would count for every human who puts their trust in Jesus.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

NT Evangelism Strategy

  1. Evangelists should be led by the Spirit to a place where God has prepared people and wants to do things. This will usually be a public place where a crowd is likely to gather. Jesus was always in the right place at the right time (John 5:19). He exercised his ministry in public where the Holy Spirit was moving.

    One day as he was teaching... And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick (Luke 5:17).
    Evangelists should follow the Holy Spirit to the place where a crowd will gather.

  2. Once in the right place, the evangelists should then identify the person that the Father wants to heal. The Holy Spirit will point him out. When Jesus went to the Pool of Bethesda, he chose the paralyzed man out of the great number of sick people waiting by the pool (John 5:3). He was the one that the Father wanted to touch. Sometimes the person will come to the evangelists. The lame man at the gate of the temple came to Peter and John asking for money, but the Holy Spirit wanted him healed (Acts 3:3). When Paul was at Lystra, he saw a lame man whom the Holy Spirit had given faith to be healed (Acts 14:8,9).

  3. Having identified the person that God wants to heal, the evangelists should lay hands on them and pray for them to be healed in the name of Jesus. If the Holy Spirit has indicated that he wants the person to be healed, he will do what he said he would do and make the person whole.

  4. When the person is dramatically healed, a crowd will gather. An evangelist will take the opportunity to preach to the crowd. They will explain that the healing is a demonstration of the grace of God and the power of the gospel.

  5. The evangelist must be prepared to pray for all people who come seeking healing. When they see what the Holy Spirit can do, many will come looking for God to touch them. They will be looking for God’s mercy, so he will not disappoint them. In the evening after Jesus had healed Peter’s mother-in-law, the whole town gathered at the door and Jesus healed many who had various diseases (Mark 1:30-34). The same thing happened when Paul was on the island of Malta and prayed for a sick man. All the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured (Acts 28:8,9).

  6. All who respond to the gospel should be baptized.

(From BCWWL p.118).

Friday, May 03, 2019

Cry for Community

The need for Christian community is greatest in modern cities, where migration and urbanization 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 characterized by loneliness and personal insecurity. In this bleak environment, people are crying out for real community. Worse still, these people do not see the modern church as an answer to their heart’s cry. They see it as another institution that meets personal needs with programs run by professionals (BCWWL p.35).

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Being Church Where We Live

Many Christians all over the world have become dissatisfied with existing forms of church. Some are so frustrated that they have stopped going to church at all. These people are not troublemakers or backsliders, but are some of the best people God has. They have become disillusioned with a church that absorbs all their time and energy, but seems to be going nowhere.

People who know in their heart that God has something better, and want to go "hard out" for it, need to read Being Church Where We Live. It offers a radical vision, based on the scriptures, that will stir their hearts and explain God's purposes for his people in these times.

If you have friends and acquaintances who would benefit from reading my book Being Church Where We Live and would like some free copies to give to them, send an email to getrad2@yahoo.co.nz with your name and postal address, and note whether you would like 5 or 10 copies. Unfortunately, this offer is limited to people living in New Zealand.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Hell??

When I started preaching the gospel, I taught the people who rejected it would suffer in hell. I presume that was what I had been taught when I became a Christian.

A few years down the track, I undertook a systematic study of the New Testament on the afterlife. I presume I was prompted by someone’s questions. What I discovered gave me a real shock. Much of what I had been taught was wrong.

  • I discovered that most of what I believed about hell was not in the New Testament. Most of the common teaching about hell comes from the imaginations of mediaeval poets and artists.

  • The word “hell” does not occur in the Greek New Testament. It is actually a clumsy double-transliteration of the Aramaic name for a valley outside Jerusalem (Gehenna), which was being used as a rubbish dump. So when Jesus warned people against the dangers of “hell”, he was actually warning them to be careful not to end up in the rubbish dump of life.

  • I discovered that the word used most frequently in the New Testament to describe the fate of those who reject the gospel was “perish”. An example is John 3:16.

  • God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
    The alternative to eternal life is not “eternal torment” but “perishing”.

  • The common belief in an “immortal soul”, the body dies but the soul lives on, comes from ancient Greek philosophy. The New Testament teaches the death and resurrection of both body and soul.

The outcome of my detailed study of this topic can be read here. When speaking about the afterlife, we must be careful not to go beyond the clear claims of the New Testament.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Preaching Good News

Brian Zahnd on preaching the gospel of Jesus.

It’s very eye-opening to realize that in all the evangelistic sermons found in the book of Acts, none of them makes an appeal to afterlife issues. Not one. If preaching the gospel is telling people how to avoid an afterlife hell, the apostles in Acts did not preach the gospel! Peter and Paul were not preaching a gospel of “how to go to heaven and not hell when you die.” Their gospel was the audacious announcement that the world has a new Lord, a new King, a new emperor: the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth. Their invitation was to believe this joyful announcement, turn from the destructive ways of sin, and be baptised into the new world where Jesus is Lord. They preached that those who responded to this gospel by faith and baptism were forgiven of their sins and made citizens of Christ’s new kingdom… Their gospel was about the arrival of the kingdom of Christ here and now, and about the hope of resurrection in the age to come. The apostles preached a gospel that had no emphasis on the fate of departed souls.

The truth is the gospel is the joyful proclamation that the kingdom God has arrived with the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the audacious announcement that Jesus is Lord and that the world is to now be configured around his gracious rule. The gospel is the beautiful story of how God is bringing the world out of bondage to and death through the triumph of Jesus Christ. If you don’t know how to preach the gospel without making appeals to afterlife issues, you don’t know how to preach the gospel.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Attendance Model

The attendance model operated by the modern church has several serious flaws.

  • Christians tend to lead split lives. When at church, they are united with other believers, watched over by pastors, and surrounded by the presence of the Holy Spirit. For the rest of their time (most of their lives) they live in isolation, trying to do what their pastors have told them they must do. They usually fail, because it is hard being a Christian on your own (that’s why Jesus sent his people out in pairs). This failure means they need to attend church again each week to receive the forgiveness of God and experience his love.

  • The attendance model does not have any potential to take territory for Jesus. It hands control over most of the earth to the spiritual powers of evil, except for a few church buildings. Consequently, there is very little territory on earth where Jesus is truly Lord. A king without territory is an imposter, so this is a serious problem.

  • Everything happens at the church gathering, usually up the front. It is the only place where the presence of the Holy Spirit. The people of the world never see the body of Jesus functioning effectively. They never see the Holy Spirit moving in power. They do not see the followers of Jesus loving one another, so he is not lifted up for the world to see. They don’t even see Christians operating in pair like Jesus disciples. The only Christians they see are isolated and intimidated at their work and the various activities of the world.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Resurrection

The resurrection was a huge victory for Jesus.

  • The resurrection took nothing away from the crucifixion. The pain and suffering of Jesus were 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 authorities to destroy Jesus. The resurrection turned their best efforts into failure.

  • 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, then Caesar is not. When Jesus was raised from the dead, God established him as the true king of the 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

More at Resurrection.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Cross

Brian Zahnd says that before looking at the cross to work out what God has done; we must look at the cross to see who God is.

Where do we find God during the suffering of Christ? Do we find God in the high priest Caiaphas demanding a sacrificial scapegoat? Do we find God in Pontius Pilate requiring a punitive death to satisfy imperial justice? No! On Good Friday we find God in Christ absorbing the sin of the world and responding with forgiveness.

The cross is where God receives the most vicious blow of human sin, and turns the other cheek, and forgives. The apostle Paul tells us that “in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself.” This should not be misunderstood as God reconciling himself to the world. It wasn’t God who was alienated towards the world; it was the world that was alienated towards God. Jesus didn't die on the cross to change God’s minds about us; Jesus dies on the cross to change our minds about God. It was not God who required the death of Jesus, it was humanity that cried, Crucify him! Crucify him! When the world says, “Crucify him”, God says, “forgive them”.

The sacrifice of Jesus was not necessary to convince God to forgive. To forgive sinners is the nature of God. When Jesus prayed on the cross for the forgiveness of his executioners, he was not acting contrary to the nature of God; he was revealing the nature of God as forgiving love. The Cross is not what God does. The cross is who God is.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Medium at Endor

Towards the end of his life, Saul faced a crisis when Israel was invaded by the Philistine army. Saul was terrified and uncertain about what to do. When he sought the Lord, he received no answer.

He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets (1 Sam 28:6).
Samuel was dead, so he could not ask him for guidance. In desperation, he entertained a foolish idea to communicate with Samuel through a spiritualist. This proved to be hard, because Saul had removed all spiritists and medums out of the land (1 Sam 28:9). However, Saul’s servants found a medium at Endor, and Saul went to consult with her. During the consultation, a man in a cloak appeared and rebuked Samuel.

And the woman said to Saul, “I see a spirit coming up out of the earth.” He said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe.” And Saul perceived it as Samuel (1 Sam 28:13-14).

Bible interpreters have disagreed about this passage. Many believe that it is not possible for a dead person to return to earth. Others believe that God allowed it in this situation. I agree with the first view. God does not usually allow people who have died to return and speak to those who are living. In experiences of this type, it is usually an evil spirit pretending to be the dead person. This was the situation with Saul and Samuel. An evil spirit appeared to Saul by pretending to be Samuel. There are several reasons why this is the case.

  • The woman was filled with fear when the spirit appeared (1 Sam 28:12-13). This is a sign that it was evil. The words that the spirit spoke filled Saul with fear (1 Sam 28:20). God’s words produce peace, not fear. Evil spirits create fear.

  • The spirit built up Samuel’s name.

    The LORD has done what he predicted through me (1 Sam 28:17).
    If Samuel had gone to paradise, he would not feel the need to say “I told you so”. He would have been honouring God.

  • The spirit said that God had taken the kingdom off Saul because he had refused to execute judgement against the Amalekites.

    The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey the LORD and carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this to you today (1 Sam 28:17-18).
    This is not correct. God took the Kingdom out of Saul’s hands when he offered sacrifices to God at Gilgal (1 Sam 13:7-12). This was something that only a descendent of Levi should have done. Samuel warned Saul that this disobedience would cost him the kingdom.
    You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command” (1 Sam 13:13-14).
    Saul lost his Kingdom because he offered a sacrifice, when the prophet had told him to wait.

    I have explained in this article that Samuel was obsessed with the Amalekites and went beyond his prophetic role by killing this king. The evil spirit that had prompted him to do this was probably the same one that now appeared to Saul pretending to be Samuel. This spirit had spoken on behalf of Samuel before.

  • The spirit declared that Saul and his sons would die. A spirit expressing a death wish is usually not from God. If God intended Saul to be killed, he would most likely have sent a prophet to warn him. He did not, so the evil spirit took the opportunity to tell Saul that he would die.

    The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me (1 Sam 13:19).
    Saul accepted the evil spirit's word. When we agree with the word of an evil spirit, we give it permission to do what it has predicted. By accepting the word of the evil spirit, Saul allowed the spiritual powers of evil to fulfil it. The Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, his three sons were killed, and Saul was struck by enemy arrows (1 Sam 31:3). Saul’s time as king may not have been complete, but the powers of evil brought it to an end, because he accepted a word of evil against him.

  • Saul took his own life, after he was injured critically be enemy arrows (1 Sam 31:3).

    Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised men will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it (1 Sam 31:4).
    I doubt that God wanted Saul to die this way. Taking one's own life is contrary to his will. The nature of his death confirms that he was spoken to by an evil spirit.

Christians should not contact the dead by consulting mediums or spiritism. Some people have used the incident with Saul and Samuel to justify these activities. If we understand that this was an evil spirit pretending to be Samuel, then the dangers of this activity are confirmed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Samuel and Saul

The relationship between Saul and Samuel was a difficult one. Samuel knew the people of Israel were making a mistake when they demanded a king. Their failure to trust God was an insult to his ministry. However, God had used Samuel to anoint Saul, so he felt a bond with him. On one hand, he wanted the kingship to fail, so that his warnings would be vindicated. On the other hand, he had chosen Saul, so he would like to see him succeed.

This ambiguity explains Samuels strange behaviour towards Saul. When Saul was preparing for battle, Samuel made him wait for a week, become coming to make an offering to God on behalf of the army. Even when he came, he was later than he had promised. Because his men were fleeing, Saul made the offering to God instead of waiting for Samuel. This is the first step of disobedience that caused God to withdraw his blessing.

I have always felt a bit sorry for Saul. It was almost like Samuel set him up to fail. So, Samuel was partly responsible for Saul’s failure. The prophet of the nation had the responsibility to keep him on the right track. I suspect that Samuel had deliberately put Saul in a place where he would fail, because he unconsciously wanted the kingship to be a failure.

Prophets must be careful that loyalty to their word does not cause them to slip into perverse behaviour.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Demas

One of the most unfairly-treated characters in the New Testament is a companion of Paul called Demas. Preachers use him as an example of a person in a blessed situation who feel away from the gospel because they loved the things of the world too much. However, that is only one possible interpretation of the one verse where he is mentioned.

Towards the end of his life, Paul was alone and under pressure. He wrote to Timothy and asked him to come to him, along with Mark. Here is what he wrote about Demas.

Demas forsook me, having loved the present age, and went on to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke only is with me (1 Tim 4:10-11).
It is plausible that Demas fell from grace because he loved the world and escaped to Thessalonica for a sinful life. But it is just as plausible that Demas loved the people Thessalonica who were trapped in the worldly Roman culture and went to them to preach the gospel. This the sort of thing that a person who had hung out with Paul would do. If there was an opportunity for the gospel in Thessalonica, Paul would have encouraged Demas to go.

Paul lumps Demas together with Crescens and Titus together in one sentence, without any explanation, as those who have gone out to share the gospel. I doubt that he would not have done that if Demas had deserted the faith.

The Greek word translated “forsake” is egkataleipo. It can mean deserted, but it can simply means departed. I think that we should give Demas the benefit of the doubt, and not be to quick to condemn him.

Paul would have supported Demas, because was always looking for opportunities for the advance of the gospel. Paul wanted Timothy and Mark to come, not because he wanted them to care for him, but because there were opportunities for sharing the gospel that they could take up (2 Time 4:11).

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Being Prepared

A few weeks ago, I had an interesting dream.

A group of people are sitting in the lounge of the house having a deep discussion. They were in comfortable chairs and the conversation was pleasant.
After some time, one got up to go through the door that opened to the other rooms of the house. When the door was opened, we saw that a sheet of plywood had been nailed to the door. When we removed the plywood, we saw that the rest of the house had been stripped of everything in it, including furniture and fittings.
I wrote down the following interpretation.
Church leaders look at their own situation and assume that everything is fine. If they looked around, they would realise that everything that belongs to God is being stripped out of our culture.
Yesterday, I found an article by Rod Dreher that confirmed the importance of this message.

What Christians who live in parts of the US where the faith hasn’t declined as steeply as it has in New England don’t understand is that the virus is coming for us too. There is no effective quarantine. Of course, it’s frightening to face all this, but the failure to face it and figure out what we in the churches can and must do to deal with the crisis is going to result in the total collapse of the faith within our own families and communities. Waiting for a miracle is not a plan.

I’m not going to rehash here the facts about the state of the church and the Christian faith in the US. You’ve heard them all from me here before, and anyway, they’re in my book. If you go to a church that has a lot of people in it, and everybody is engaged with their faith, well, that’s great! But look beyond the walls of your congregation. Look beyond the bounds of your Christian community. Things are not okay. Things are not remotely okay. There are no relatively minor adjustments we can make that will enable the churches to manage this without radical change.

New Zealand is probably as far down this path as New England or California. It is a totally different world from the one that I grew up in during the 1950s, and God has been squeezed out of everything.

Aaron Renn notes that Christian leaders have been blind to what is happening.

I believe a big part of the reason why is that they simply reject Dreher’s premise that things are getting bad. Instead, if you listen to what they say and look at what they do, it’s pretty obvious that they think things are still going reasonably well. They still have big expansionist visions such converting significant percentages of people in their city, planting large numbers of new churches, etc. that at a minimum suggests that unlike Dreher, they believe Christianity is going to retain significant mainstream appeal. As a video put out by a Manhattan church plant put it, “We’re here because we refuse to believe that this city is hostile to church.”

The Evangelical world, essentially all of the people with powerful platforms to speak are either a) pastors of very successful megachurches b) leaders of important Evangelical institutions c) their acolytes or others who hope to curry favor with them.

This isn’t the result of a nefarious conspiracy but rather common sense. Who are you going to listen to, someone who is successful or someone who is a failure? Who is going to have a bigger audience, the pastor of a 50 person church or the pastor of a 5,000 person church?

Now ask, if you’ve built a 5,000 person megachurch in a major city, are you likely to think that Christianity is losing its appeal or that trends for the faith are poor in America? Probably not. If I were in the shoes of one of those pastors, I think I myself would probably say that things may be different today but they are still ok if we adjust our ministry strategy a bit – say to look more like mine.

Alan Jacobs summarises the problem.
The dominant media of our technological society are powerful forces for socializing people into modes of thought and action that are often inconsistent with, if not absolutely hostile to, Christian faith and practice.

In America today, churches and other Christian institutions (schools at all levels, parachurch organizations with various missions) are comparatively very weak at socializing people, if for no other reason than that they have access to comparatively little mindspace.

An example of how far things have gone “down under" occurred this weekend. The best Rugby player in Australia will be kicked out of rugby in a world cup year because he posted comments on Instagram about the eternal consequences of life choices. I don’t agree with his statement, but his claims have been standard doctrine in conservative and catholic churches for at least the last 500 years. Rugby has never had particularly high moral standards, with the main values being winning and money, but the response to his words has been vicious. People who suggested that he is allowed to say what he thinks, have been quickly silenced. I amazed that Australian Rugby will put its world cup chances at risk over a religious statement by one of its players.

At the same time, the main on-line news site in New Zealand has highlighted an article about a homeless person who has just converted to Islam and found a welcoming community. The same edition had a satire article mocking the Christian God. I don’t recall an article about a person whose life was changed around by the gospel of Jesus, for many years, although I presume that there have been plenty.

I am not worried about the rugby player, because he has already earned millions during a long career, and he has peace with Jesus, but I am concerned about the lack of preparedness in the church for what lies ahead.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Blocked Prayers

I sometimes hear Christians saying that witches and warlocks are blocking the prayers of Christians for a city. These statements are misleading, because they don’t take into account the authority situation in a city.

The Holy Spirit lives in my heart, so he can hear my prayers directly. Mostly, I hope that he initiates them. Witches and warlocks do not have the power to stop the Holy Spirit hearing my prayers. If my prayers are blocked it will be caused by people with authority, not power.

If prayers of Christians for a city are being blocked, it will usually be because spiritual principalities and powers (government-spirits) have gained a place of authority over the city. They will have been given that place, often unwittingly, by the political, and religious leaders who have authority in the city.

Political and religious have real authority in a city. When they all commit a common sin, these leaders surrender some of their authority to the spiritual powers of evil. This gives them an influence in the lives of everyone who is submitted to the authority of the religious and political powers in the city, including Christians. This will usually be the cause of the blockage of prayer.

Political leaders can give spiritual powers of evil authority to control what happens in a city. God has given authority over the earth to humans, so people with authority (and the spiritual powers they submit to) can block God from working on earth.

Witches and warlocks have very little authority in the city. It is unlikely that many people will be submitted to them. Therefore, their machinations will have little effect. They will not be able to block prayers.

Blocked prayers are usually the result of a spiritual stronghold given a place by the political and religious leaders of the city.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Real Love

Jesus told his followers that they should love their enemies. That was good advice. Love will triumph over evil and hate, but that is not that as easy it sounds. The basic standard for the treatment of enemies is the so-called golden rule.

Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:33).
That sounds easy, but it quite difficult.
Love is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of harm.
Love does not delight in injustice (1 Cor 13:4-7).
Those who love seek the good of others ahead of their own good. They do not keep the record of harm that is done to them. Instead, they let it go. Those who love do not rejoice when people they do not like experience injustice. Instead, they care intensely about harm to people who used to be their enemies.

Love is costly. Those who love must care for everyone they encounter who is hurt or suffering. The Good Samaritan did this. The injured mand was his enemy. He could have rejoiced that his enemy had got what he deserved, but he did not. He cared for the injured man in a dangerous situation (Luke 10:30-36). He paid for his care, and committed himself to paying any future costs.

The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have’ (Luke 10:35).
The Good Samaritan went beyond an initial act of kindness. He committed to paying for his enemy’s care. Real love has a cost.

I hope that the people who are calling for more love are serious about it. Society will benefit. But they probably do not realise how hard it will be in practice. Without the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we will often fail.

Them/Us
The problem with saying that love triumphs over hate is that it creates another them/us divide. The liberal people who make the declaration believe that they already love everyone. However, they would not buy a house in South Auckland or East Christchurch. They would not go into the rough bars in these areas. Saying that people whom you don’t know are “haters” is hypocritical.

The liberal people who say that love will overcome hate mostly drink in nice cafes and wine bars, where the people they meet are just like them, so it is easy to say they love them (whatever they mean by that).

I don’t believe that there are many people out there who really hate, even in the hard parts of the city. There are plenty of people who are full of fear, but not many hate. So, when we say that there is a lot of hate that needs to be overcome by love, we do the people in those places a disservice.

Saying that love overcomes fear is easy to say, but saying the words does not make it happen. If they really love everyone in the city, these people would go and live amongst those who are struggling and afraid. That would enable love to triumph over fear, and hate.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Hate or Fear

Many media commentators discussing the mosque attacks in Christchurch have claimed that racism is motivated by hate. The public have taken this up and held vigils and marched for love, claiming that love will triumph over hate.

Not only is love harder than most people realise, but they are mostly targeting the wrong problem. Most racism is caused by fear, not hate (racial hatred only occurs when fear gets out of control, but this rare).

The media commentators have no understanding of the spiritual aspects of life. They don’t realise that evil spiritual powers are real, and can change the behaviour of people who get caught up by them. As a result, they are unable to explain evil events when they occur. If you don’t believe that evil is real, you can’t use it as an explanation. (The word evil just become an expression for things you intensely dislike).

Media commentators cannot blame evil on fear, because that would not be sufficient to explain the depth of evil. And everyone has felt fear, so we cannot accept the idea that fear would cause people to do evil. They prefer to blame every atrocity on hate, because most of the time, most of us don’t hate, so it separates it from us. Also, hate seems ugly enough to explain the evil. Hate seems to be the perfect explanation, but that does not make the claim true.

Most racism is not motivated by hatred, it is motivated by fear of the unknown. All humans like to be with people who are like us. When we see people who are different, we become uneasy, because we feel uncertain about how they behave. That is quite normal.

The solution is to get to know people from other races and religions. Once we know them and understand them, the fear usually goes. If we remain separate, the uncertainty increases, and the fear of what we do not know grows. This is the basis of racism.

Fear only turns into hatred when fear gets control and overwhelms our emotions. We can then begin to hate the people who make us afraid. That happens, but it is not as common as the media claim.

Anger is an emotion, that flares up when we feel aggrieved. In contrast, hatred is an attitude. Hatred is intense dislike. A dictionary defines hatred as “intense hostility, usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury”. Hatred is such a strong attitude that it looks for ways to harm the person hated.

There are two ways that hatred functions.

Personal Hatred
Hatred is personal when it is directed towards a particular person. If the other person has done something harmful that has really hurt a person, they will often hate them intensely. The sense of injury causes the hate. The only solution to this hatred is for the perpetrator to apologise and for the victim to forgive them. Forgiveness does not come easy, so hatred often persists and deepens.
Anyone who works in a large organisation will know people who hate each other intensely. These two people will take every opportunity to pull the other person down and harm them. These dysfunctional relationships will flare up frequently, if apology and forgiveness do not occur.

Personal hatred is always directed at a person whom the hater has known and had some bad dealings with. Their bad treatment and hurt is used to justify the hatred.

Love is a strong motivator for forgiveness. So love would resolve this kind of hatred, but it will difficult to get the person to love the one they hate. Talking about the power of love might not change much.

Group Hatred
Hatred of a group is quite different. It is not possible to know all the people who belong to the group, so a group is defined in some obvious way, and everyone belonging to it is assumed to be the same. The thing defining the group is usually colour, ethnicity or religion. Whereas personal hatred arises from bad experiences with the person hated, group hatred arises from ignorance and lack of relationship with the identified group. A feeling that the group has benefited at their expense might increase the hatred.

Hating an entire group of people is basically irrational. Firstly, categorising people on the basis of a single characteristic is foolish, because there will be huge diversity within the chosen characteristic. Assuming that all white people are the same is illogical. Secondly, the character of a huge group of people cannot be determined on the basis of a tiny sample. Assuming that the multitude of people within a category are the same as the few that have been encountered or read about does not make sense.

I remember when I grew up, many men who had fought in the Second World War hated all Japanese. The refused to buy Japanese cars and would not travel to Japan. They had experienced evil fighting against the Japanese, and assumed that all Japanese were evil. They took no account of the corrupting effects of war. They just assume that all Japanese people were equally evil. That is not fair.

Likewise, there is huge diversity within the worldwide church. Assuming that all Christians believe the same thing does not make sense. Declaring that all Christians are violent, based on a meeting with few who are, is unfair to other Christians that you have not met.

Group hatred usually begins as fear of the unknown. People are uneasy about people and situations that they have not encountered before. This fear only grows into hatred, when fear gets control and overwhelms our emotions. We can then begin to hate the people who make us afraid. Hearing about events that make us afraid, can stir up anger, which then settles into hate.

The solution to this hatred of a naively defined group of people is for people to become acquainted with the people from the group they fear. They will find that the people they meet are just like them. They will not like them all, but that does not matter, because most of us do not like everyone in our own group. We probably choose people we like to be our friends, but we do not need to like everyone. We are not required to like every person that we encounter.

When we get to know the group we fear, we will realise there is huge diversity within the group. There may be some who hold the view that we fear, but it is almost certain that most will not. Rather than assuming they are all the same, or like the bad few that we encountered during a war, we will realise that most are different. Understanding this should be enough for us to live in peace with people of different religion and ethnicity.

Love is not really the right word for this solution. Going to places where we will meet with people from different ethnic groups and religions and getting to know them is what is required. Getting acquainted with neighbours is a better way to describe it.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Religious Conflict

Islam and Christianity can never stand in full unity, because they both want to expand into the entire world. Moslems want all things to be in submission to Allah (Islam means submission). Likewise, Christians want all people to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. They want all people to accept that Jesus is King of Kings and God of Gods. They believe that will happen as the good news about what that mean is proclaimed and accepted everywhere.

In the past, both sides have used military force to try and expand their influence, but that is wrong. The Crusades were the worst Christian example. ISIS is probably the worst Moslem example. There have been some really embarrassing example on both sides.
Jesus was absolutely clear that Christianity must not be expanded using violence and force. He wants people to freely choose to serve him, because they love him. (I do not know enough about Islam to confirm that the same applies to it).

People who claim that both religions should live alongside each other in peace are na├»ve. They don’t understand that spirits of deception and confusion are at work to lead people into false religious beliefs.

The idea that religious people should just get on with each is unrealistic. It is the view of people who don’t take religion seriously, who see it as nothing more than a cultural preference, like Morris Dancing or Victorian Literature. People who make that claim are pulling religion down, by inferring that God is not real. That is an insult to people who believe in God, which is not living in peace.

Truth
Christianity and Islam are in competition with each other. This is an issue of truth. Both cannot be true. There can be diversity of beliefs, but there cannot be diversity of truths. If Christianity is true, Islam is false, and vice versa. If Jesus is divine, then Islam is wrong. (If secular humanism is true, then both are false. If Christians succeed in sharing the gospel and the people of the world acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, Islam will decline and disappear.

Of course, fighting wars for the truth is a mistake. The truth always gets lost in the pain and destruction of battle. This has happened too often in the past.

So, people of different religions should live together in peace, and debate their ideas, without being violent or using force to make people change their beliefs. People who have the truth should be confident that truth will win in the end, without the need to use force or violence to defend it.

The gospel of Jesus is the best news that I have ever heard. It delivers more than any other religion. It is far better than the promises of any political leaders. The Holy Spirit testifies to the truth of the gospel and confirms it with signs and wonders.

The gospel of Jesus can stand on its own. It does not need the power of the state to protect it or enforce it. If the gospel is listing in the market place of ideas, it is likely because it is not being fully lived.

Superior Religion
A common claim is that all religions are equal. This claim ignores the spiritual dimension of life. It assumes that each religion is just another cultural practice that people are free to choose between. This is not true.

Every religion includes a view of the world and way of life. Some match the world better than others. Some support a better life than others.

I believe that Christianity, as proclaimed by Jesus, is a superior religion, because it better reflects the nature of the world (spiritual and material) and is true to the character of God. That makes it superior to other religions. The bonus with the gospel of Jesus is that God has sent his Holy Spirit to work in the lives of those who choose to follow Jesus. No other religion can match that gift.

I realise that adherents of other religions believe that theirs is superior to mine. I have no problem with that. When making choices about life, we all try to choose what is best. When deciding which school to send our children to, we try to identify the best one in the region. When deciding which club to join, we try to identify the best. I would expect people choosing a religion to follow to do the same. Once they have chosen their religion, I am not surprised that they will believe it is the best.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Prayer and Submission

Some Christians in New Zealand have been uneasy about the broadcasting of a Moslem call to prayer and about participation in Moslem prayers. At this time, prayer for people of other religions is good, but followers of Jesus should be careful when praying with them. Spiritual risk never goes away.

Submission and Authority are the key to understanding spiritual danger.

  • Submission to any authority is dangerous, because when I submit to another person. I give them authority in my life. That gives any spiritual powers at work in their life permission to interfere in mine. Therefore, we should be very careful about whom we submit to and ensure their lives are holy and evil-spirit free.

  • All religion is spiritual, so submission to the leader of other religions is dangerous, because by submitting to them, we are also submitting to the spiritual powers that operate through their religion. The spiritual powers of evil love to work through false religions to spread deception.

  • People with authority have greater influence, because they commit the people who they have authority over. If we submit to a political or religious leader, we give the spiritual powers behind that leader permission to intervene in our lives. When leaders with authority over many people are deceived, the powers of evil that control them gain permission to intervene in the lives of the people under their authority.

  • The decisions and actions of people with authority have broader spiritual impact. They can release a bad spiritual power over the people who have submitted to their authority. This is why we should be cautious about submitting to political leaders (and religious leaders).

  • Followers of Jesus do not need to be afraid of places, because they are protected by the blood of Jesus. The real danger comes from being submitted to the wrong authority.

  • Christians should be wise when choosing whom to submit to. Many Christians have submitted to leaders who are influenced by a MIC Spirit. This has had a negative effect on their spiritual growth.

Avoiding submission to people who might have negative spiritual powers at work in their life is a key to spiritual protection. The following are examples of how these principles should be applied in the current situation.
  • I would have no problem in going into a mosque, if a friend invited to attend the prayers. Likewise joining a vigil outside a mosque is fine. What we should guard against is submitting to their authority. I am protected by the blood of Jesus, and provided that I do not submit to the authority of the Iman, the spirits behind them cannot touch me. Being submitting to the wrong authority is what is dangerous. If we are only submitted to Jesus, no place is dangerous.

  • The Prime Minister seems to have been careful in what she has said and done. She has offered sympathy and advice. Because she grew up a religious family (Mormon), she seems to respect other religions. She has consulted with religious leaders and attended prayer services, but she does not seem to have submitted to their authority. She seems to have been careful to protect the authority of her prime ministership. Some time ago she said,

    I have a real respect for people who have religion as a foundation in their lives, and I respect people who don’t. I’m agnostic. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure it out. I just think people should be free to have their personal beliefs and not be persecuted for it, whether they be atheist or staunch church members.
    This is what she seems to have been doing in Christchurch.

  • I have no problems with the Prime Minister meeting with Moslems to offer sympathy and support. As citizens of New Zealand, they are entitled to that.

  • I have no problem with the Prime Minister attending an outdoor prayer service, provided that she does not submit to the authority of the Iman. I am more concerned about the spirits that she carries because she grew up in Mormonism.

  • I am not concerned about an Islamic prayer service being held in Hagley Park prayer. They have earned the privilege of worshipping there. That has no effect on Christians, even if they attended, provided they do not submit the authority of the speakers.

  • I am not worried about the Moslem Call to Prayer being broadcast on television and national radio. Provided people do not submit to the authority of the Iman, they are not affected by hearing the call to prayer. Christians cannot be harmed by the voice of a different religion unless they agree with it.

  • I am very concerned about The Speaker of the NZ Parliament inviting an Iman to lead prayers in Parliament. By giving him that permission, the MPs are submitting to his authority. That leaves them vulnerable to the spirit behind Islam, especially those with MPs no faith, and no spiritual protection. The spirits that work through Islam are the same as those that used to work mostly through Freemasonry. There are plenty of these hanging around in New Zealand looking for an opportunity to gain influence. Because they have authority in the land, these members of Parliament have probably opened New Zealand up to these spirits.

  • The most serious situation in New Zealand is the meat industry, because the Meat Processing Companies have submitted to the authority of Islamic Imans and give Moslem slaughtermen permission to pray in their slaughterhouses. This is serious because companies that are important for the agricultural industry have submitted to the authority of religious leaders. Their submission to authority has opened them up to the spiritual powers behind Islam.

  • Most New Zealanders do not understand the influence of the spiritual realms. They have submitted to all kinds of junk that has let wrong spirits gain authority in our land. That is a far greater concern.

These situations are always come down to submission and authority. Places are not dangerous for followers of Jesus. Submitting to authority is dangerous, because it always has spiritual implications.