Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tax Cuts

In a budget announcement last week, our government announced tax cuts for most earners. This is supposed to be good news, but I do not see it this way.

A thief stole a wooden chest containing twenty gold coins. He thinks that he is generous, because he gave back to the owner the three copper coins that were also in the box.
Taxation is theft. Tax cuts are just a sop to sucker us into forgetting the real nature of taxation.

When a people acquiesce to compulsory taxation, any group that can get elected to power, can take our income an assets with impunity.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Getting our Methods Right

Most Christians are using the wrong method when they deal with sickness. We are trying to use the gifts of healing for Christians, when we should be using them for the lost in evangelism. Christians are asking God to heal them, when he has already done everything that is necessary for salvation (healing). Christians should not be asking God or to heal them. They do not need to plead with Jesus for healing. He has already provided healing for us when he was whipped and beaten. We do not have to ask for it, but we do need to appropriate what he has already been given to us. We receive what is our by faith. We also need learn to resist Satan, standing in faith.

God has given his people authority over sickness, and Satan (Matt 10:1):

  • Christians have authority over sickness in their bodies
  • Fathers have authority over sickness in their family
  • Christians have authority to heal unbelievers
  • Elders have authority against sickness in their disciples.
  • If we resist the devil together, he will flee.
  • Christians preaching the gospel have authority to heal unbelievers.
Instead of asking God to heal us, we must use our authority to get rid of sickness.

Christians should be claiming the full promise of the Gospel. When Jesus was flogged, his skin was torn open and his muscles lacerated by several pieces of glass or bone on the end of the whip straps. Only death was necessary for forgiveness of our sins. Jesus body was broken for our healing. If we do not walk in his healing, his pain was wasted.

More on Christian Healing here .

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pastors are the Problem

Ezekiel had a severe warning for pastors who do not heal sickness in their flock.

Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock... You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured (Ezek 34:2,4,5).

He says that God is angry with the pastors who do not heal the sick in their flock. They should be helping those who are being attacked by enemy and setting them free. In God’s eyes, healing the sick is more important than preaching sermons. This is a serious challenge for elders and pastors.

When Jesus saw the people suffering from sickness and disease, he was filled with compassion (Matt 9:35,36). He knew they were harassed by Satan and like sheep without a shepherd (pastor). He did not ask God to heal them, but prayed that God would provide good shepherds for them. Many Christians are still harassed and without a shepherd. The Church desperately needs pastors and elders who can set their people free from sickness.

Teaching people to be satisfied with sickness is not the solution, because it devalues the work of Jesus. The disappointment will only disappear when the church is walking in all that God has promised and established through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Healing is the only antidote to this disappointment.

Christians should expect their elders and pastors to heal their diseases. If they are sick, the problem is with their leaders, not with God, so crying out to him will be a waste of energy. Sick Christians can pray that God will stir up their elders. They can ask him to give them insight and wisdom. They can pray that their elders will grow in faith and the power of the Spirit, but seeking God for their healing makes no sense, because he expects pastors and elders to do the job.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Live in the Right Place

Territory and geography are really important for spiritual warfare (Dan 10:20; Eph 1:21; 6:12). The spiritual pressure in a city or country is not evenly distributed, so the place where we choose to live or work may affect our health.

  • If we live close to the stronghold of the spiritual forces that dominate our city, we may experience stronger attacks of sickness. Christians are often heroic and choose to live in the toughest part of the city. However, a wise general attacks where the enemy is most vulnerable, not where it is the strongest.
  • If the intensity of the Holy Spirit’s presence is strong in the area where we live, because there are more Christians there, walking in health will be easier.
  • When a Christian lives in isolation from other Christians, they will be more vulnerable to attacks of sickness.
  • If we work at a business, where the people in authority are defeated by sickness, we may experience stronger attacks of sickness. By submitting to their authority, we become vulnerable to the same attack. We should be aware of this and stand against that sickness.
  • Some Christians have been attacked by sickness, when they moved from a spiritual stronghold where they were safe to a house in a “better area” under more spiritual pressure. The quality of the housing will be a poor indicator of the spiritual pressure in an area. Spiritual pressure is discerned spiritually.
Christians should be aware of the spiritual implications when they change their place of residence. We may be called to move to an area that spiritually tougher, but we should be prepared. If we are defeated by sickness, changing locality could be the key to getting victory over sickness.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Avoiding Perversity

Lack of faith is a serious problem for the modern church and the reason we receive so little. Jesus called his generation an unbelieving generation (Matt 17:17,19-20). In many ways the same description applies to the modern church. We have been made into an unbelieving generation by our education and scientific approach to life. We have forgotten that true science cannot deal with the spiritual dimension to life.

Our lack of faith is perverse, because Christians trust many odd things:

  • Copper bracelets
  • Bee venom
  • Oils
  • Magnetic blankets.
Christians talk of their favourite cure, but we seldom hear them declaring what God can do. Some of the things they trust do work for a time. Satan is quite happy to take away the symptoms for a while, to get us to trust in a lie. However, in the end, the only way to deal with a satanic attack is to stand against him holding the shield of faith. Like the man beside the pool, Christians are looking to other things, when they should be looking to Jesus (John 5:7).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dealing with Failure

Those praying with sick Christians must always deal with the consequences of their actions. We are human, so things will not always happen as we expect. If things go wrong, we must find out why and deal with it. We must never, never dump the responsibility for our failure on the sick person. Elders have a particular responsibility in dealing with any failures. If we just leave the person unhealed, they will feel that they do not enough faith or that God does not love them. They will just end up feeling condemned and vulnerable. This undermines the faith of the church.

Sickness can be hard to handle, so we must not pretend it is easy. If we cannot get victory over sickness, the church and especially the elders should accept responsibility. They should be willing to admit that they do not have enough faith. Leaders must stop dumping their lack of faith on people who are sick. Many of their people in their churches long to be healed. They have prayed and tried hard to believe. They should not be condemned. The failure lies with a Church that has been robbed of its inheritance.

The time has come for this burden to be lifted off the sick and put back where it belongs on the church. The first step is for the church as a whole to take responsibility for its lack of faith and failure to get victory over sickness. Then we can then start seeking God’s his solutions. We can get together and start battling through to victory, until we receive all that Jesus promised.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Faith and Symptoms

Abraham showed the correct way to deal with symptoms.

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith (Rom 4:19,20).
Abraham faced his symptoms squarely. He did not pretend they were not there. He faced the facts, but did not waver through unbelief. His faith was not weakened, but was strengthened by the promise of God. Despite the symptoms declaring his age, he continued to prepare for the birth of a son.

The problem for modern Christians is that we can see the “things that are seen” very clearly. We have scans and X-rays that help us to see tumours and fractures much better than was possible in the past. We have tremendous evidence of the things that are seen and tend to focus on them. We have become accustomed to living in accordance with what we can see. We must learn to live in the certainty of the promises of God that are not seen.

Sickness among Christians is not proof that God does not heal. God dealt with my sin on the cross. The fact that I still sin does not imply that God does not save us from sin. It just shows that I am a bit slow to take up the salvation that Jesus had earned for me. The problem is with me, not with the cross. In the same way the fact that I am sick does not imply that God does not heal. The problem is with me (or more likely the church). We should never let our experience determine our theology. Our theology and our beliefs about healing must be based on what God has said and done.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Submission and Authority

When we submit to each other, we are giving others the authority to speak into our life and to act on our behalf against evil. This is a key to getting victory. God has made me free, so another person can only have authority in my life, if I give it to them. I give another person authority in my life by submitting to them. If I submit to the elders in my church, they have authority to resist evil on my behalf. The more I submit to them, the greater spiritual authority they will have to resist any evil that is attacking me.

This relationship between spiritual authority and submission is not well understood. We often ask other Christians to pray for us, but without much affect. The reason is that they have very little authority in our lives. They cannot have authority, if we have not given it to them.

We tend to assume that a large number of people praying for us will be more effective against the attacks of the enemy. This is not correct. When resisting evil, two or three Christians who have real authority in our lives, because we have submitted to them, will be much more effective. Asking a lot of people to do battle with us is pointless, if we are unable or unwilling to submit to them.

Submission and authority go together. The word translated as "resist" is the Greek word "ant-histemi", which literally means to “stand against”. Therefore, resisting is the same as standing. The meaning of the word "submit" is to "place ourselves under". Therefore we must stand under Gods authority before we stand against the devil.

When Paul said that elders would watch over and care for us (1 Tim 5:17), he used the Greek word “pro-histemi, which means “stand before”. When we submit to elders, they are standing before us and with us. The word "stand" is plural in the Greek New Testament. Standing is not something that we do on our own. We must stand together with others to achieve victory. A soldier who stands alone is easily defeated.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Peter and Dorcas

Peter showed what how elders should deal with sickness when Dorcas died in Joppa. He went to Joppa as an elder, because something was wrong in the Church. The devil had scored a home run in this infant church, so Peter sent and tipped the battle back the other way.

I am not sure why there were no elders in Joppa to deal with this problem. It may be that no elders had been raised up at this early stage of the gospel advance, or maybe the elders were inexperienced and just accepted that Docas’s death was inevitable. Anyway, some of the disciples knew they should call on an elder to deal with the attack.

Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, "Please come at once!" (Acts 9:38).
Peter came to Joppa and took the battle to the enemy.

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed.

Turning toward the dead woman, he said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up (Acts 9:40).
Peter prayed and got assurance from God that her life on earth was not complete. Once he knew that this was a attempt by the devil to take out a key leader in a fledgling church, he resisted the devil by commanding her to sit up. She was healed immediately. Peter restored the church in Joppa to the way God wanted it to be. Sickness and death had intruded where they do not belong, so Peter got rid of them.

Another example is Paul speaking to the Church in Troas. A young man called Eutychus fell out the window and died. Paul went down and laid on him to bring the man back to life. . Paul was acted as an elder to correct something that had gone wrong in a church. The devil had killed a key young man whose role on earth was not finished. Paul restored him so that the church would be complete. If he had let the devil win, the church would be weaker in two ways. It would lose a valuable member, but more importantly, its level of faith would be weakened. A good elder could not let that happen.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Standing Together

Sickness is tough to deal with. Resisting Satan while standing alone is difficult. It is hard to have faith when burdened with sickness. Resisting is hard when we are weak or unwell. We need others to stand with us and do battle on our behalf. If we are under attack by sickness, it is hard to stand alone. This is the main reason that the modern church does not have victory over sickness. Christians are often isolated, so Satan is able to pick them off one at a time. Christians have compassion for friends who are sick, and often ask God to heal them, but they rarely go into battle with them.

Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Tim 4:20). This is the only case of sickness in New Testament that was not healed. There is no explanation, but Paul complains that his colleagues had deserted him and left him alone. I presume that he was isolated and under pressure, so he did not have the strength to overcome the attack on Trophimus. No one was standing with him.

Victory over sickness comes from being in relationship with Christian friends, who will go into battle against a sickness attack and push through to victory.
Christians need to be with people who have victory over sickness.
Two or three people have more authority than one standing on their own. The sick person might not be that confident in resisting sickness. If some friends join in declaring that the sickness has no legal right to be in his body, the sick person will be more resolute.

The faith of friends can be really important.

  • The paralytic had friends with faith for him to be healed (Luke 5:18).
  • The man by the pool had no friends to stand with him (John 5:5-7).
A sick person may be so overwhelmed that they struggle to have faith and speak with authority. The key thing that the friends can add is extra faith.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Authority and Power

Authority and power are different and both are needed to destroy sickness. A judge has legal authority, but the police have physical power. A judge can declare that the owner of a property should have access and that a squatter must leave. However the squatter can ignore the judge. The police have the physical power to the remove the squatter from the property according to the judge’s decision.

Christian has authority over their lives, but as humans we have limited very power. The Holy Spirit has enormous power, but no authority over our lives unless we give it to him. Christians have authority over sickness, but we have very little power. The Holy Spirit has power over sickness, but can only act, if he is given authority.

Authority and power are both needed to defeat sickness. I can withdraw the authority of a sickness to be in my body, but I do not have the physical power to force it leave. Christians must learn to exercise our authority and release the Holy Spirit’s power. We sometimes make a lot of noise as a substitute for power, but sickness is not fooled. Only the Holy Spirit has the physical power to force sickness to leave our bodies. I must give the Holy Spirit authority to use his power to force it out of his body.

When I resist sickness, by commanding it to leave, this is like a court order removing its authority to be there. Sometimes the sickness will just ignore the court order. The Holy Spirit authority has the police power to evict the sickness from my body. I must invite him to come and force it out.

The Holy Spirit is willing and able to deal with sickness.

  • The Holy Spirit has infinite power. The powers of evil are no match for him. When they come up against him, it is not contest.
  • The Holy Spirit loves to heal the sick. He is willing to evict sickness from our bodies.
  • He lacks authority unless we give it to him.

The Holy Spirit is willing and he has the power, but he is respectful when dealing with Christians. He will not force us to do anything. He respects our freedom (authority over our lives) so he will not push in if he is not invited. He will only deal with sickness when the issues of authority and control are settled.

If nothing happens when we invite him to evict a sickness, it is never because he is unwilling or too weak. The only that could prevent him would be that the issue of authority has not been sorted. If something we have said or done is still giving the sickness permission to be in our lives, he will not act against our will (authority). Therefore, if the sickness does not go when we give the Holy Spirit authority to remove it, we must be hanging onto thoughts or pretensions that overrule his authority. These need to be broken before he can go to work. The Holy Spirit cannot destroy these agreements for me. I have to take back the permission from sickness, because I gave it authority in the first place.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Victory in Rest

We must avoid a false understanding of spiritual warfare that confuses resisting with striving. A flurry of activity and noise will not gain victory over to spiritual attack. We do not need to “babble on like the pagans” (Matt 6:7). Victory does not come from many words or noisy commands. These activities are reliance on human strength, which is sin.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength (Is 35:10).
We must be careful not to get into striving against the enemy, because that makes us weak. Satan was defeated by Jesus on the cross, so all the “heavy lifting” is done. We resist the enemy by “standing” in what Jesus has finished. We will need to learn much more about resisting while resting in Jesus.

This becomes easier, if we understand the usually works by bluffing us into accepting his authority and power. We can resist his ideas by thinking or speaking the promises of God. This does not require a noisy activity. We resist sickness by declaring words of faith and inviting the Holy Spirit to force it out. The Holy Spirit does the physical work, so we do not need to strive or make a noise.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Time to Die

Christians do not live until they get a fatal sickness. They should live until their work on earth is complete. Our lives should not end until we have finished all that God has given us to do. The Bible indicates that some people who ought to be living had died needlessly (1 Cor 11:30). That should not be happening.

On the other hand, we should also be careful about holding people back when their lives are complete. By praying for healing, we can stop people from dying. This prayer is not appropriate if their work on earth is finished. In some situations, we may need to give God permission to take home someone we love. This may be important if Satan is trying to stop them from dying (Jude 9).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stop Pleading

Many Christians have been misled into thinking that they must plead earnestly to God for healing. Of course nothing happens. The reason is that God has already done everything that he can do for salvation (healing). There is nothing more that he can do except increase our faith and knowledge of his love.

Christians should not be begging God to heal them. Pleading only makes sense, if we could change his mind. We often pray like as if he is stingy, but might heal us if enough people ask him. This is nonsense. God is good. He wants us whole. He is not holding back his healing, waiting to see if we are desperate enough. We do not have to change his mind.

Some are pleading with Jesus, because they think he is kinder than God. We do not need to plead with Jesus for our healing, because he bought when he was whipped and beaten. We were healed by his stripes. Pleading with him implies that what he did at the cross was not enough for us. Pleading with someone who died on the cross to do more is absurd.

We do not need to persuade God to change his mind and heal us. We can ask God to give us a revelation of his goodness and love. We can ask God to stir up his elders. We can ask God to increase their faith, but there is no point in asking God for what he has already given us. That sounds like ingratitude.

There is no example in the New Testament of anyone praying in this way.

Dear God, please heal my sick brother.
The reason is simple. From God’s perspective the sick brother was healed when Jesus died on the cross. God has already what has to be done. Jesus work is finished. Everything that he can do has already been done. There is nothing more to ask for. The church should not be asking for healing, but it should be appropriating the health that Jesus has bought for us.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Besetting Sin

Sometimes, the sickness may be the result of besetting sin. Many of us have particular weak point in our character that we battle with for much of our Christian life. (I suspect that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was a besetting sin and not weak eyesight as is often suggested.)

A good example of a besetting sin causing sickness can be seen in the life of Jacob. A weakness in his character was that whenever he got into trouble, he would try to manipulate events, rather than trust in God. He even wrestled with God, rather than trusting him. God touched his hip and gave him a limp, to remind him of his weakness (Gen 32:31). Jacob could not be healed of his limp, until he got victory over his besetting sin that caused it.

If our sickness is caused by a besetting sin, we may not be healed until we get victory over it. This may take time. Strong spiritual support from Christian friends and elders may be needed to speed the process.

Friday, May 16, 2008

God Hates Sickness

The idea that God causes sickness is one of Satan’s cleverest lies, but it is still a lie. God is good, so he cannot cause sickness. There is no sickness in heaven, so it cannot come from there. The appearance of someone dying of cancer is enough to prove that it is not from God. It is obviously the work of someone evil.

One of the names of God is Yahweh Rapha (Exodus 15:26). This name means God Heals. God is called “The Healer”, because healing is at the core of his being. God the Healer could not cause sickness. The suggestion that he causes sickness is an awful insult to his character. We should never say,

God sent me this sickness.
Sickness was brought into the world by Satan. He created viruses and bacterial diseases. We should never allow him to blame his success on God. Sickness and disease are the work of the evil one.

Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing. He never saw his Father making people sick, so he did not make people sick. God is the Healer. Blaming for his for sickness is a terrible blasphemy.

Persuading Christians to believe that God caused their sickness has been another very successful scheme. If God is responsible for the sickness, then resistance is pointless. Unfortunately many Christians now believe that their sickness was sent by God.

Those who understand that Satan is the source of sickness will hate it vehemently.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Look at the Spiritual

We need discernment to deal with sickness. Too many modern Christians only see the physical cause of sickness. The cause is contact with someone with an infection. This is not a Christian view, but is rooted in the modern philosophy of naturalism or materialism, which assumes that everything that actually exists is material, or physical. Materialism seeks to explain every event in the universe as resulting from biological, social, genetic, environmental or physical interactions. All events are determined by cause and effect, with no spiritual or external influence.

The Bible teaches something quite different. In God’s economy, nothing happens by chance. Random events do not stride Christians. Everything in our lives has a spiritual dimension. Everything that happens on earth is an interaction between the workings of God and the machinations of the enemy.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:10).
Although events may appear to have physical causes, the real cause is spiritual. For example, Eli the high priest was blind and could not see (1 Sam 4:15). A physical examination would have shown that Eli had cataracts. However, the scriptures teach that he was blind because he refused to do anything about his sons sins, but “turned a blind eye” (1 Sam 2:29).
An inspection of Job’s boils would identify the staphylococcus causing problem, but the scriptures explain that they were actually caused by an attack of Satan (Job 2:7). King Asa sought help from the King of Damascus. He died aged thirty-nine from an infection in his feet, but the real reason was that “even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord” (2 Chron 16:13).

Jesus healed numerous sick people. In each case it would have been possible to diagnose the infection causing the disease, but from God’s point of view, they were “under the power of the devil” (Acts 10:38). Jesus healed a woman who had been bent over for eighteen years and could not straighten up at all. A physical examination would have shown osteoporosis of her spine, but Jesus said, “Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years” (Luke 10:13-16). Christians must look beyond the medical facts and into the spiritual dimension to understand the real cause of sickness.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Local Localities

The Holy Spirit works locally, not globally. He is not interested in large audiences or getting onto television. He prefers to work in a particular locality with local people. When Peter’s mother-in-law was healed, the entire neighbourhood came with their sick. They realised something special was going on, because they knew Peter and his mother-in-law. Some that had seen her with the fever saw her again healed. They did not need further proof.

As soon as healing goes onto the public stage, questions get asked. Was the person really healed? Were they pretending to be sick to get close to the great preacher? Were they as sick as they claimed? Did the sickness come back next week? Has the healing been authenticated by their doctor? God does not need this junk.

The Holy Spirit prefers to work locally. The people living close will know the person that is healed. They can quickly work out for themselves if the healing is real. When Jesus healed the man who was blind from birth, “his neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging” could see that he was healed (Jn 9:8).

One reasons that we do not see as many healings as we would like is that we look in the wrong places. We expect people to be healed on the stage at the front of a church or on television. The Holy Spirit loves to work locally. If we went and prayed for our sick neighbours, we would see greater healings.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gift of Healing

Going to the lost with the gift of healing is very important. Over the last decades God has been restoring the gift of healing to the church. This is great, but we have tended to keep it in the church and only prayed for Christians. This is a mistake.

Praying for Christians is a good way to learn about healing, but we need to go on to praying for the lost. If we do not, we will often lose the gift. The Holy Spirit loves the world and is always moving out towards it to draw people to the Father (John 7:37,38). If we don’t go with him, he will go on without us.

Jesus blessed us so we could bless others. If we are just seeking our own healing, we are missing the point. We should be seeking healing for the lost who are in pain. When sending out the disciples to heal the sick, Jesus said,

Go the lost sheep… (Matt 10:6).
We should do the same.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Peter and Dorcas

Peter acted as an elder when Dorcas died in Joppa. He knew that something was wrong in the Church. The devil had scored a home run in this infant church, so Peter wanted to put things right.

I am not sure why there were no elders in Joppa to deal with this problem. It may be that no elders had been raised up at this early stage of the gospel advance, or maybe the elders were inexperienced and just accepted that Docas’s death was inevitable.

Peter did what elders should do. He did not deal with this in public as, he did when healing the paralytic in Lydda when he was proclaiming the gospel (Acts 9:34-35). He went into the room with Dorcas on his own and prayed and found out from God what was going on. He did not know the cause of her illness, so it was best to seek the Lord in relative privacy, as the cause might be something that would embarrass here if revealed in public. The Lord might have told Peter not to worry, because he wanted her to come home, although I suspect that he already knew that was not the case when he decided to go to Joppa.

God showed Peter that her life on earth was not complete, so this was a direct attack from the devil to take out one of the key leaders in a fledgling church. When Peter knew God’s purpose for Dorcas, he resisted the devil by commanding her to sit up. She was healed immediately. Peter restored the church in Joppa to the way God wanted it to be. Sickness and death had intruded where they do not belong, so Peter got rid of them.

Another example is Paul speaking to the Church in Troas. A young man called Eutychus fell out the window and died. Paul acted as a good elder and went down and laid on him to bring the man back to life. This was not healing evangelism. Paul was acting as an elder to correct something that had gone wrong in a church. The devil had killed a key young man whose role on earth was not finished. Paul restored him so that the church would be complete. If he had let the devil win, the church would be weaker in two ways. It would lose a valuable member, but more importantly, its level of faith would be weakened. A good elder could not let that happen.

The process will be calm and orderly. The elders will seek God. One of the elders will a word of knowledge about the cause of the sickness. The person will get healed. No drama. No fuss.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

No Slam Bam

Slam bam, be healed in Jesus name works for unbelievers, because all they need to be healed is burst of God’s power. It does not work for Christians, because it does not deal with the underlying cause of the sickness. Finding out why the person is not able receive what Jesus has freely given may take time, words of knowledge, talking about issues or confession of sins. This is unlikely to happen under television cameras at the front of a meeting.

If their problem is lack of faith, a Christian may get inspired at a healing meeting and have a rise of faith to the point where they are healed. That is great, if it happens. However, lack of faith is only one possible reason for the sickness. Many other issues that can rob people of the healing that Jesus has earned for them cannot be dealt with on the stage at the front of a church. Peace and quiet will be needed to hear the Lord and sort out the problem.

The church has its wires crossed. The big-man, healing-meeting model does not work, because it is using the right method in the wrong place. The healing-meeting methods that should be used in the world for people who have not received the gospel, but we are using it for dealing with sick Christians. The proof that it does not work is the fact that most churches are full of sick people. Many have gone forward at healing meetings again and again, but they are still sick. The fact that so many Christians are sick after fifty years of healing meetings shows that this model is faulty. We have ignored God’s clear teaching and it is costing us.

James 5 is very clear. Sick Christians should go to the elders. It does not say they should go to the doctor. It does not say to go to a healing meeting, the next time an anointed evangelist is at a church in town. It does not say they should go to the church meeting next Sunday. It says that they should go to the elders.

Elders have avoided this issue for a long time. Christians have let them off the hook by ignoring the command and going to doctors and healing meetings. However if we deliberately ignore God’s command, we should not be surprised that numerous Christians are sick.

Paul did not see a church full of sick and dying Christians as something normal. He saw it as a sign that something is wrong.

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (1 Cor 11:30).
The word “why” refers to a cause or reason. Paul saw excessive sickness as a sign that something wrong was seriously wrong. One reason that sickness is so pervasive in the modern church is the unbiblical model that we have adopted for the healing ministry.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two Steams

The principle is that healing for unbelievers has a different basis from healing for believers. Unbelievers are in the kingdom of darkness, so it is normal for them to be sick. They can only be healed if God breaks in with healing power and mercy that they do not deserve. On the other hand, Christians are living in Christ, so they should be experiencing all the benefits of the cross. They are entitled to the healing earned when strips of flesh were ripped off Jesus back. Therefore, it as abnormal for Christians to be sick. If Christians are sick something serious is wrong in the body of Christ.

Unbelievers need the gospel to be freed from the kingdom of darkness. God will sometime extend mercy to an unbeliever to prove his existence and mercy and love. He does not do this just for the benefit of the person healed, but for all those who see the miracle. He releases his power to shake people up and make them ready to receive the gospel.

Christians get sick because they have not received something that they are entitled too. The solution is not physical power, but wisdom to sort out the obstacle that is preventing them from receiving what Jesus has earned for them. If they cannot get that wisdom on their own, they will need help from someone else with greater faith or wisdom. This is why scriptures tell sick Christians to go to their elders. There may be a variety of reasons they Christian is sick: lack of faith, sin, a demon, ignorance of the gospel or spiritual strongholds, bush fever. The elders will seek God for the reason. When the elders know what it is, they can deal with it and allow the sick person to receive the health that Jesus has bought from them.

The cause of sickness is different for unbelievers and believers, so of course the solution must be different.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Jesus Instructions

Jesus instructed the church how to do evangelism in Mark 16:15-19. He said we should go into the world (not stay in the church) and preach the gospel. We should expect God to confirm our gospel message, by healing the sick and other signs. This method has always been successful. It worked for the twelve and the seventy-two when Jesus sent them out. When the latter returned, Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven (Luke 10:18). Jesus method worked for Peter and John when 5000 men came to the Lord, as a consequence of one lame man being healed (Act 3,4). The same method worked for Paul in Malta, even though he was a prisoner (Acts 28:1-10).

Yet strangely, the church has ignored this method of evangelism through most of history. We dream up other methods of evangelism, like inviting an evangelist to the church and getting people to bring their friends (they rarely do) or putting on a concert or user friendly worship to bring people to the church. Yet we stubbornly refuse to use the method of evangelism that Jesus specifically commanded, so we should not be surprised that we do not have revival.

The evangelists with the anointing to heal the sick must be shooed out of the churches and into the world to demonstrate the love of God to the world, by healing the sick and preaching the gospel. If they have an anointing, church leaders should stop filling their diaries and keeping them busy in their churches and conferences. They should be sending them out into the world to touch the lost hurting people of the world.This would bring revival.

See Healing Evangelism.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sovereignty and Freedom

The sovereignty of God is a bit of mystery. The amazing thing about it is that God can achieve his purposes without contradicting human freedom. I believe that God sovereignly chose to make us truly free. I also believe that he is sovereignly accomplishes all his purposes.

His wisdom is so great that he can put people together in such away that they freely interact to accomplish his will. He throws in a large dose of influence by the Holy Spirit and his angels. He accomplishes his purposes despite our free will, not by nullifying our freedom.

For example, when God wanted Pharaoh to rescue Joseph from prison, he gave him a dream that he could not resist. Pharaoh did God’s will without God forcing him to do it. I presume that when God wanted Cyrus to invade Babylon, God put the idea in his mind, and being a big shot, Cyrus could not resist the idea.

I can see this pattern working in the way that I became a Christian. I was walking away from God, when a whole lot of things happened that turned me back towards him. This was the Holy Spirit drawing me to him. The pull was strong that it was almost impossible for me to resist. That is the sovereignty of God. Yet at the same time I freely chose to surrender to him. My freedom was not abrogated.

What I did not realise at the time was that before I surrendered to God, I was not free. I was actually a slave of sin. The other thing the Holy Spirit did was to rescue me from the dominion of darkness and bring me to a place where I was free to choose to serve God. I could not have made that choice, if he had not made it possible.

The irony is that we are only truly free when we are submitted to God. When we think we are free from God, we are actually slaves of sin.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wide Boy Bankers

I was amused by Rodger Bootle's comments in the Telegraph

Not long ago, banks and other lenders were falling over themselves to lend on wafer-thin margins to people and propositions which their predecessors would not have touched with a bargepole: 125 per cent mortgages; huge multiples of earnings; self-certification. Now the lenders are shutting up shop and fancy mortgages have disappeared like melting snow. Both approaches cannot be right.

The silence about the corporate behaviour which led us to this pretty pass is scandalous. Come off it boys, you were sucked into a bubble of the classic sort. You were persuaded to believe that nothing could go wrong. Yet any study of financial history would have set the alarm bells ringing. But do you ever read any? To his great credit, the Governor of the Bank of England warned explicitly and publicly of the risks. But did you listen? Outside commentators and analysts, and even, in some cases, your own in-house experts, pointed out the over-valuation of property. But did you pay any attention?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Healing Revival

Last night I watched a couple of video clips of the revival in Lakeland Florida. I am not going to pass judgment on Todd Bentley, because I do not know enough about him or his ministry. I am always delighted to see people being healed. God’s people put up with far too much junk from the devil, so I like seeing him being given a shake around. I am not from the school that says that God sends sickness and that healing if from the devil.

However, I was disappointed to see that Lakeland Florida is using the same old model that has been flogged to death by American healing evangelists over the last fifty or more years: the big man is on the stage calling out the words of knowledge; people going onto to the stage to give their testimonies and get zapped by the big man with the anointing. It is all designed for good television. God used this model for a time to wake up the church to the reality of healing, but surely we are now past that now.

Some are saying that what is happening in Florida is the beginning of a revival. I doubt that this old model can bring revival, because it is not a biblical model.
The biblical model for Christians is to go to the elders when they are sick (James 5:14). If they cannot deal with sickness, they should probably not be elders. Christians should not have to go to a temple in Lakeland Florida to get healed. While the devil can defeat the elders of a church with sickness, I doubt they will get significant victory in other areas.

The biblical model for healing evangelism is going out into the streets, coffee houses, pubs, shopping malls and marketplaces and preaching the gospel to the crowds that gather when the sick people are healed. The lost should not need to go to the temple to find Jesus. The gospel should come to them where they are.

Under the biblical model, the anointing multiplies. Jesus sent out twelve. When they came back successful, he sent out seventy-two. He sent his people out in pairs. We will not get revival while we remain dependent on a few anointed big men. That is fine for television, but it does not work in the real world. God needs ten thousand evangelists with a quarter of the anointing carried by Todd Bentley before he can bring real revival to America. Where are they?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Leveraged Banking

I have just read an article by David Greenlaw (Morgan Stanley), Jan Hatzius (Goldman Sachs), Anil K Kashyap (University of Chicago), Hyun Song Shin (Princeton) called Leveraged Losses: Lessons from the Mortgage Market Meltdown. Their estimate that total mortgage credit losses will be about $US400 billlion has become the accepted wisdom. I was more interested in what they have to say about leverage.

The balance sheet perspective gives new insights into the nature of financial contagion in the modern, market-based financial system. Aggregate liquidity can be understood as the rate of growth of aggregate balance sheets. When financial intermediaries’ balance sheets are generally strong, their leverage is too low. The financial intermediaries hold surplus capital, and they will attempt to find ways in which they can employ their surplus capital. In a loose analogy with manufacturing firms, we may see the financial system as having “surplus capacity”. For such surplus capacity to be utilized, the intermediaries must expand their balance sheets. On the liabilities side, they take on more short-term debt. On the asset side, they search for potential borrowers that they can lend to. Aggregate liquidity is intimately tied to how hard the financial intermediaries search for borrowers. With regard to the subprime mortgage market in the United States, we have seen that when balance sheets are expanding fast enough, even borrowers who do not have the means to repay are granted credit - so intense is the urge to employ surplus capital. The seeds of the subsequent downturn in the credit cycle are thus sown.
I cannot understand why we want a financial system based on leverage. It does not have to be that way. See Money.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

True Repentance

Bill Johnson says that one reason that we have to constantly deal with same stuff is that we just repent of the symptoms. This is like plucking the leaves off a dandelion. It just grows up from the roots again. True repentance is agreeing with God right down to the root cause of the problem.

Many people have repented enough to get intot heaven, but they have not repented deep enought to see the kingdom of God coming in power.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Spirtual Mixture

I want to see God move in power. The thing that worries me about the spiritual moves that come out of America is that there seems to you seem to be so much mixture. I have no doubt that the spirit has moved, but there seems to have been a lot of flesh at work at the same time. There has been a lot of mixture.

An international evangelist spoke in our city last month. God did some great miracles. And he did some great teaching on faith. However, when he talked on money, my heart wept, because the process was so manipulative. I understand that he has to raise an enormous amount of money to keep his operation going, so I can see where it comes from, but it is still mixture.

When I read the New Testament, I see mighty miracles and the word being spoken straight. I see the political authorities and spiritual counterfeits being upset because they are challenged, but I do not see the same mixture of spirit and flesh.

People say that every move of God receives criticism. This is true, but that is because most moves of God have involved too much mixture. In the end mixture is dangerous, especially if it is honoured. It can easily lead to the person going down the wrong track.

I am always delighted to see God moving in power, but I get really troubled by the mixture. I doubt that we will really see the breakthrough we are seeking until we see a much purer move of God. I suspect that will not happen, until we have apostles and evangelists working in unity with true prophets. The prophetic people are responsible for purifying the body. At the moment the only critique comes from people who are opposed to healing and miracles, so they have no credibility. I sense that we need to see prophets working in unity with these anointed to leaders to ensure that the move of God is kept more pure. I am still waiting for that to happen.

Mixture is the opposite of holy. Mixture should never be honoured?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

False Ideas (11) - The Holy Spirit is a Failure

No one actually teaches this idea, but I think that most Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is a failure. This deception is implicit in the teaching that Jesus must return to establish the Kingdom. This age is the age of the Spirit. We live in a time when God is working in the world through the Holy Spirit. God has given the Holy Spirit the task of establishing the Kingdom (working through the church). If Jesus has to return to do the job, the Holy Spirit has failed.

The truth is the other way round. Jesus came to earth as a man, so he was limited to working in time and space. His influence was limited to the country of Palestine. This meant that it was impossible for Jesus to establish the Kingdom. He laid the foundation for the Kingdom by his death, resurrection, but he could not make the Kingdom of God a reality. Ruling the world from Jerusalem would have been impossible. This is why Jesus said it was better for him to leave the earth (Jn 16:7). By departing, Jesus released the Holy Spirit to work in the world. While living on the earth, Jesus had no influence beyond Israel. Once he left the earth and began to work through the Spirit, his influence soon extended throughout the earth.

The Holy Spirit has the capability needed to establish the Kingdom of God. The only obstacle to the coming of the Kingdom is human sin, but through the salvation of Jesus, the Holy Sprit has the power to overcome sin. He can empower his people to witness to Jesus throughout the earth (Acts 1:8). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would "convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement" (Jn 16:8). He is able to give sinful people a new heart" (John 3:5). We can expect the Holy Spirit to be successful in these tasks. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the church means that it has dynamic power. Since he has all the infinite power of God, we should expect the Spirit to bring the Kingdom of God to victory.

Over the last century, Church has rediscovered the power of the Holy Spirit, but our understanding of his role has been limited to his work in the Church. We need a revelation of his role in establishing the Kingdom of God.