Wednesday, September 30, 2009

War and Peace (3)

Tolstoy experienced war, but was not impressed.

War is not a polite recreation, but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to understand that and not play at war. We ought to accept it sternly and solemnly as a fearful necessity. It all comes to this: have done with lying, and if it's war then it's war and not a game, or else warfare is simply the favourite pastime of the idle and frivolous....

The military is the most honoured calling. And what is war, what is needed for success in war, what are the morals of the military world? The object of warfare is murder; the means employed in warfare—spying, treachery, and the encouragement of it, the ruin of a country, the plundering of its inhabitants and robbery for the maintenance of the army, trickery and lying, which are called military strategy; the morals of the military class—absence of all independence, that is, discipline, idleness, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness. And in spite of all that, it is the highest class, respected by every one.

All sovereigns, except the Chinese, wear a military uniform, and give the greatest rewards to the man who succeeds in killing most people.... They meet together to murder one another, as we shall do to-morrow; they slaughter and mutilate tens of thousands of men, and then offer up thanksgiving services for the number of men they have killed (and even add to it in the telling), and glorify the victory, supposing that the more men have been slaughtered the greater the achievement (War and Peace p.886).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

War and Peace (2)

Tolstoy was not that impressed by big-name leaders. They assume they are in control, but they are just being swept along by history.

In historical events great men—so called—are but the labels that serve to give a name to an event, and like labels, they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own freewill, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity (War and Peace p.691).

Monday, September 28, 2009

War and Peace (1)

I have just finished reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I first read this book nearly forty years ago. Back then I considered it to be one of the best novels that I have ever read. Reading it again after such a long time, I have not really changed my opinion. I had forgotten how much I had been influenced by Tolstoys thinking.

Tolstoy tells the story of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He gives an amazing description of the Battle of Borodino, which was the turning point in this war. Reading his account, you get a sense of the scale and scope of the battle, but at the same time you learn what it was like in the centre of the battle. His descriptions contrast the hardships of the foot soldier with the luxury and huge baggage trains of the generals and their hanger-ons. The foolishness of the generals and emperors is revealed again and again.

At another level, Tolstoy describes the lives and interactions of half a dozen Russian families. His characters emerge from the pages with amazing detail. The story of their births and deaths, their loves and marriages, their sufferings and adventures keep the ready engaged right to the end of the book.

In between all this, Tolstoy undertakes sum detailed philosophical discussions about the meaning and purpose of life. I found this a very interesting combination.

In my next few posts, I will put up some interesting quotes.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Authority (22) - Holy Spirit

The Kingdom of God is established when a person obeys the Holy Spirit, regardless of where they are in the hierarchies of life. Each believer can do Jesus will, by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Authority is chopped up and pushed down to the lower levels of the hierarchy. The lines of control can be removed.

An interesting thing then happens. Once everyone is living and walking in the Holy Spirit, hierarchy becomes unnecessary. People no longer need someone to control them or to tell them what to do. A prophetic person might be useful to capture vision and direction, but that person does not need to hold a position of control. The organisation might need someone to act as spokesperson, but they do not need to have imposed control over others.

As the Holy Spirit gains control, the people with delegated power (darker spheres) lose their role. They will need to step down to a lower place to fulfil their role. There is no need for anyone to be greater than the others.
The devil is severely weakened because he cannot concentrate his power in one place. If he does concentrate against one person, he does not gain much because the person he attacks has very little authority. Dispersing religious and political authority is essential for the advance of the Kingdom of God.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Authority (21) - Kingdom of God

Most people think that the Kingdom of God is established by putting a Christian at the top of the hierarchy. The yellow arrow represents the Holy Sprit’s authority. It is possible to impose religious authority in this way, but there are two main problems.

Firstly, Jesus refused to establish the Kingdom of God by imposing power. Using imposed authority to establish the Kingdom actually undermines it. Secondly, this approach leaves the organisation vulnerable to demonic attack. The enemy can regain control with minimal forces.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Authority (20) - Danger

The hierarchical structure is dangerous, because it is vulnerable to attack. Satan could attack people at every level in the hierarchy (red arrows).

Attacking everyone in the hierarchy is one option, but is quite inefficient from the devil’s perspective. Attacking people in positions of authority is far more effective use of his resources. If a few people control the organisation, the devil can gain control over all of them by attacking the person at the top with most authority. Here he gains the same level of control, using only a quarter of the resources.
Hierarchical allows a few demonic powers to control large numbers of people. This is why principalities and powers have been so important. They are evil spirits controlling cities and nations through the power of human hierarchies. By making extensive use of imposed authority, the people of the world have massively amplified the power of the enemy.

The devil was able to work great evil through Hitler, because Hitler exercised immense imposed authority. The Beast of Revelation will be do great evil, because he is given imposed authority by many lesser political powers. The United States political system is extremely dangerous, because one man has control over three hundred million people. The devil can deploy huge power, by gaining control of the president.

If the devil were unable to leverage his power by using human authority structures, he would be severely weakened. A key to destroying his power and advancing the kingdom of God is to destroy hierarchical power structures. By advocating and perpetuating political and religious power structures, Christians are increasing the power of the enemy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Authority (19) - Power Sturctures

In the world system, power and authority are imposed from above.

The spheres represent people. The lines represent the authority or control. The spheres in the darker colour exercise imposed authority. The person at the top has the greatest authority. The three people at the next level down hold delegated authority.

This type of structure is widespread in the modern world. It is appropriate in the business world, because the people who chose to work for a business agree to submit to the authority of those who manage the business. Hierarchal structures are not appropriate in most other areas of life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Counter Insurgency

Counter Insurgency is a strange expression. Counter insurgency strategies are only needed when an empire has occupied a country that belongs to other people who are unwilling to lay down their weapons and submit to the empire’s control.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Society Values

The focus of discussions on pay equity have changed. Laws requiring equal pay for equal work have been in place for nearly twenty years, but the gap between male and female incomes still remains. The problem is that female employment is concentrated in low paid jobs. For example, supermarket checkout operators are poorly paid and most are female.

The statement is often made that society puts a low value on the types of work that women do. This statement misses the point. In a free market, wage rates are not a reflection of the values of society, but the outworking of supply and demand. The reason that wages are low for supermarket checkout operators is that there are limited numbers of jobs and large pool of people (mostly women) who are seeking this type of work. The demand for checkout operators is unlikely to increase much in the future. If the supply of people seeking this type of work continues to grow, then wage rates in the supermarket sector are unlikely to increase.

The best way for women to increase their incomes is to develop skills that allow them to move into the types of work where the supply of employees is more constrained.

The idea that society puts a value on things like work is a nonsense. God can value things. He looked at the earth he had created and saw that it was good. He looked at what mankind had done in the times of Noah and did not like what he saw. Humans are made in the image of God, so we have the same capacity to make value judgements. Individuals can look at situations and decide, if they are good or bad. Sin has contaminated this ability, so sometimes our judgements are twisted or distorted. As our thoughts are renewed and we develop the mind of Christ, our judgments and values should become like those of God.

Individuals can make value judgments, but society cannot. There is no calculus for adding up individual judgments into an aggregate society judgement. Some people will value the service they get from checkout operators. Others will not even notice what they are doing. To say that society as a whole puts a value on their work does not make sense. What is usually happening in these situations is that a self appointed spokesperson for society puts a value on something.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Democracy and Prayer

Modern Christians have strong faith in democracy. A disturbing aspect of this faith is the way that it contaminates prayer.

When a Christian requires God’s intervention in their situation, they ask other Christians to pray for them. For serious needs, they will attempt to get their entire church praying. The internet reinforces this behaviour, because it is now possible to get people all over the world to pray for a person in desperate need. This concern for people in need is good, but the underlying theology is flawed.

The basic assumption behind this practice is that God is more like to respond, if many people are praying. Putting it another way, if we can just get enough people to ask him, he will change his mind and meet the need that we are all concerned about. It assumes that God is democratic. If enough people vote for something, he is bound to do it. He will do something he is reluctant to do, if enough people pressure him.

In my book Being Church Where We Live, I wrote about submission and spiritual protection. The key point is that prayer is all about authority. Prayer gives God authority to act on earth. Prayer is standing in authority against the powers of darkness. The implication is that for another person’s prayer to be effective in my situation, they must have authority in my life. I give people authority in my life, by submitting to them. This is why we are commanded to submit to each other.

Groups of people who are submitted to each other can pray effectively for each other. An elder whom I have given authority in my life can stand and resist with the devils attacks against me. If I have submitted to a friend by giving him permission to challenge me when I take the wrong path, my friend has authority in my life. That gives him authority to release the Holy Spirit’s power to work on my behalf when I am struggling.

A person on the other side of the world, who has read about my plight by email, but does not know me, has no authority in my life, so their prayers will be ineffective. God does his own will. He does not respond to large crowds or majorities. He is not interested in democracy.

We often assume that if we have a large number of people praying for us, their prayers will more effective against the attack 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 (BCWWL p.78).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Elijah and the Rude Children

Elijah's treatment of the rude children has gained a lot of bad press.

Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths (2 Kings 2:23-24).
This account does not say that Elijah was correct in his actions. The incident is recorded without comment, so we do not need to defend it.

Elijah was not perfect, he just did his best with the knowledge that he had. With knowledge of Jesus and his teaching, it is clear that Elijah misused his gifting. The boys who mocked him were irrelevant. He should have just turned the other cheek and ignored them.

James and John acted in the same way when they wanted to call down fire from heaven on those who opposed them (Luke 9:53-56). Jesus warned that they were acting in the wrong spirit. I think he would have said the same to Elijah.

The Elijah incident demonstrates that prophets can misuse their power. Prophets must not use their gifting to protect their role or their reputation.

God Will Protect?

A few days ago, I was emailed a copy of a prophetic warning by Joh W Matutis of Berlin Germany. He warns of terrible times coming on the earth that will cause the people of the world to be paralysed with fear. However he promises that God will protect his people. This is just one of several warnings in this vein that are currently being circulated among Christians.

These warning appear to be genuine, but I notice something really important missing from most of these words. They promise that God will protect his people, but say nothing about how Christians should be getting prepared. The underlying assumption is that physical protection is supernatural and that Christians will be protected, whatever their state of preparedness.

The scriptures teach something quite different. Protection is sometimes supernatural. God protected Elisha by blinding the eyes of the blinded the eyes of an army that was attacking Israel (2 Kings 6:17-20). God used the ravens to feed Elijah during a drought (1 Kings 17:2-6). Peter had a miraculous escape from prison (Acts 12:7-10). However, protection was more normally provided through relationships with other believers who had prepared for the tough times that lay ahead. Here are some examples,

  • Noah’s family was protected by building an ark.

  • Joseph protected his family from famine, by buying surplus grain during the good years when it was cheap.

  • David was protected from persecution by the distressed and discontented men who joined him at the cave of Adullam and became his mighty men (1 Sam 22:1-2).

  • Obadiah kept a hundred prophets safe during Jezebel’s persecution (1 Kings 18:4).

  • Jeremiah was protected and rescued by his friend Ebed-Melech the Cushite, a man with influence at the court (Jer 38:7-13).

  • Jesus gained protection by being surrounded by twelve fairly handy disciples.

  • Jesus always sent his disciples out in pairs.

  • Jesus received financial support from several wealthy female disciples (Mk 15:41).

  • Paul was protected by the disciples who lowered him from the wall of Damascus in a basket (Acts (9:23-25).

  • When Paul was stoned and left for dead outside Lystra, some discples came to his aid and restored him (Acts 14:19-20).

  • Christians in Thessalonica helped Paul and Silas escape to Berea (Acts 17:10).

The message is clear. God will sometimes provide supernatural protection for his people. However, protection will more often come through other believers. Three factors are essential for protection:
  1. Strong relationships with other believers.
  2. Getting prepared by wise use of the resources that are available during the good times.
  3. Believers in positions of influence.
We should be thinking about how we can use relationships, resources and influence to provide protection for themselves and others.

Real physical protection comes through relationships and connections with other believers, but most modern Christians persist in living in relative isolation. We only meet with other Christians when they drive to church on Sunday. Some participate in midweek meetings, but most drive to these as well. If vehicle travel were to be restricted, most of us would be quite isolated.

I see an enormous disconnect in most Christian thinking. Christians seem to like the idea of the world being judged, but very few have done anything to prepare for living through the disasters and troubles that judgment would bring. They have not thought about how they can prepare to support other Christians in trouble, or reach out with generosity to unbelievers who are struggling. Most Christians seem to assume that God will protect them, so they do not need to do anything to prepare for living through a time of crisis.

There will be times in the future when we will need God’s supernatural protection. I am certain that he will come through for those who trust him, just as he has done in the past. But just assuming that we can count on him to protect us supernaturally is really presumptuous, if we are unwilling to build the relationships that we need to protected from evil.

The latest economic crisis has added to the complacency, as many are thinking “I came through that crisis unscathed, so I can cope with anything”. The reality is quite different. If the half of the events currently being prophesied were to occur, many Christians and most churches would be totally wiped out. I suspect that many of the events being prophesied will not happen, because God will hold them back, because he cannot risk the enormous damage that they would do to an unprepared church.

Scanning the Christian bulletin boards, I see two types of prophecy. There are plenty of prophecies warning of judgment and troubled times. There are almost as many telling Christians that they will fine. One important element seems to be missing. I am looking for more prophecies that:
  • Challenge Christians to get prepared for what lies ahead
  • Explain to Christians how to get prepared.
An example is The Ambush, which gives a similar warning, but challenges Christians to get prepared and explains what should be done. Where are the men of Issachar, who understand the times and know what God’s people should do(1 Chronicles 12:32)?

I have written elsewhere about God will Provide. He sometimes provides supernaturally, but more often he provides through hard work and the generosity of other Christians. The same is true of the promise that God will Protect.

For more see Preparing for Social Collapse.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Testing Prophets

When a person acts as a prophet to a nation, the nation has to decide, if the person is a prophet to the nation. It is recognition by the nation that ultimately establishes a person as prophet to the nation.

When a prophet speaks publicly, the public have the right and responsibility to assess whether the word is right and relevant to them. They should not blindly follow it. I think that we need more rigorous debate about some of the words that are spoken by modern prophets. I have publically suggested that a couple of big name prophets have actually interpreted their dreams incorrectly. I think we need more of that kind of discussion. I would be concerned, if Christians felt that they must shut up, no matter what they think about a word or a prophet.

The person critiquing a prophecy must keep their heart right. They must not speak out of envy or jealousy. (That is where Miriam went wrong.) They must not impugn the character of a prophet, if they do not know them. They should be careful, that they are not rejecting a prophecy that God is speaking to them. They should remain humble. They should speak with the courtesy that should apply to all Christian interactions with other people. However, if people keep their heart right, there is nothing wrong with questioning the role of a person that other people have put up as a prophet, or a word that a prophet has put out.

There is an awful lot of prophetic junk out there. There are many prophets who have stepped up to the next level, before they are ready. We actually need more testing of prophecies and prophets not less.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prophetic Privilege

We must be careful about building a theology of prophetic privilege. God has not promised to protect his prophets, but he will protect his word. Jesus warned that prophets would be persecuted. He did not say they should be protected.

Prophets are often mistreated and mistrusted by the church. That has to change. But the solution is not for prophets to be put on a pedestal immune from challenge. What we want is an environment where prophets are welcomed and prophecy is respected, but where prophetic ministries are rigorously assessed and prophecies are vigorously tested.

The idea that there are ministries, whether pastor or prophet, to whom we must blindly submit is wrong and dangerous. Far too many Christians have been lead off the right path, because they have followed their pastor without questioning his decisions. We do not want Christians to start doing the same with prophets.

The common idea that prophets are subject only prophets is wrong and dangerous. Prophets do have a special role in testing judging prophecy (1 Cor 14), but that does not mean that others do not. Anyone who is prophesied to has responsibility to test the prophecy and assess the prophet. The problem with prophets is that they can stir each other up into error. This happened in 1Kings 22. Jehoshaphat was not a prophet, but he tested the court prophets word and rejected their ministry.

On the other hand, Christians should be very careful about attacking a prophet (or any other Christian) in the wrong spirit. These attacks are usually a way of rejecting the words the prophet has spoken. If the word is true, they are putting themselves in a dangerous position. Rejecting God’s word, whether prophetic or scriptural is risky, because it weakens our spiritual protection.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vague Prophets

Many modern prophets are quite vague. They often ramble and their messages are often confused and vague. Quantity of words often seems to be more important than quality. When I look at the prophecies on the various prophetic websites, I find that many of them to be ambiguous and imprecise. Vague words benefit the prophet, because it means that no one can prove that they have spoken a word that is not true. With some prophecies that are said to be fulfilled, it is hard to be sure, because the wording is so loose that you could drive a truck through it.

I am sure that many of these people have received a revelation. They have just not taken the trouble to hone the word and ensure that they are communicating what they have received precisely and accurately. If prophecy is going to be taken seriously, prophetic people will need to communicate much more clearly.

The biblical prophets were very precise and clear in the way they wrote and spoke their words. They knew they would quite likely be misunderstood by a people with hardened hearts, so they made sure that they did not give them and excuse, by speaking vaguely. The application of a prophecy will often be unclear. People with hardened hearts will not just not get it, but that is not an excuse for prophets to be lazy with their presentation. I am not surprised that much modern prophecy is ignored, because the wording is often just too sloppy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Clear Prophecy

With regard to clarity, prophecy and its application must not be confused.

The application of a prophecy can be unclear, especially if it is intended for a different person or a different time, or the listeners have heard hearts. The prophecy itself should be clear and precise.

This is evident from the scriptures. The application of many prophecies is unclear. Often the application is not clear until the prophecy has been fulfilled. This is true of Revelation. Much of the application of this book is still not clear.

The prophetic word itself if always very clear and precise. The prophets did not just dictate what they heard the Holy Spirit saying, like automatons. They received a revelation from God and wrote down or spoke what they had received. It is clear that what they wrote is very carefully honed. Much of Jeremiah’s prophecy is presented as poetry. John recorded the revelations he received on Patmos with an amazing economy of words, yet what he saw is vividly and precisely described.

Jesus never rambled. The beatitudes themselves are amazingly precise and clear. The application of them is much more difficult.

Jesus could tell an complicated parable in just a few words, because his communication was precise and clear. His listeners understood the story clearly, their problem was with the application.

Isaiah 53 is a good example. The application of this prophecy was totally unclear, until Jesus had died on the cross. However, the prophecy itself was very clear and precise. Reading now, it is clear that every word was important and is exactly where the Holy Spirit wanted it to be.

Lehman Brothers Collapse

Governemnts round the world are warning that bankers have not learned the lessons of the financial crisis.

A more serious problem is that governments have not learned the lessons from the financial collapse. Governments created the legal and banking system that allowed bankers to act foolishly. Assuming that further government regulation can solve problems caused by faulty laws and regulations is very foolish.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Strategy for Success

Christians need to do some serious thinking about the political sphere. If the Lord were to bless us, and turn our nation back to him, we need to be ready with a clear idea about what should be done about political power. We must not drift into a Christendom mindset like the Constantinian church did when it got the numbers.

We should thinking now about what the political sphere should look like, if the gospel is successful in a nation. It is too late to start thinking about these issues, when that time arrives, because Christians will be too busy. The thinking must be done in advance, so that Christians are ready, if and when gospel success comes. That is where I am focusing my energies.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Section 59 and Smacking

Section 59 of our Crimes Act demonstrates the futility of human law making. It was a compromise put together by our previous and current prime minister (both recognised as excellent political leaders). I am really impressed with they way they could put four contradictory clauses together one after the other and call it a good solution.

Section 59 states:

  1. Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of -

    • preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or
    • preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or
    • preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or
      disruptive behaviour; or
    • performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

  2. Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

  3. Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

  4. To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

Subsection 1 hints that force can be used when a child is misbehaving. Subsection 2 says that force cannot be used for correction. Subsection 3 says that the second takes precedence over the first. Brilliant!! So what does subsection 1 mean.

The politicians then crowned their achievement by adding an instruction to the police in the middle of a section of the Crimes Act which is setting our possible legal defences. The problem is that police practices are governed by the Police Act 1958 and not the Crimes Act.

Section 59 is a wonderful demonstration of the power of democratic compromise. If we had a few more laws like this, Christians might wake up an realise that democracy is a sham and start thinking about a better way.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Last month a citizen-initiated referendum was held in New Zealand. The demand for the referendum rose out of change to the Crimes Act a year earlier. The amendment to section 59, limits the ability of parents to smack their children. The opposition to this law change was led by Christians. They collected over a 300,000 signatures on a petition to initiate the referendum. The topic of the referendum was as follows.

Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"
Voter turnout was 56.09%. 87.4 percent of valid votes opposed the statement. Despite this decisive signal from voters, the government is refusing to change the law. They claim that the law is working fine.

I did not vote in this referendum, and will not vote in any other. In my view, referendums are a humanist technique. The underlying principle is that if enough people vote for something, then it is morally correct. That is totally wrong. The majority is often wrong. The first referendum gave Israel a golden calf. Another famous referendum led to Jesus being crucified. Referendums do not have a great record from a Christian perspective, so I am not sure why Christians advocate referendums.

The irony is that although Christians scored a win with this referendum, they have actually undermined the Christian influence in New Zealand by legitimising a humanist method. They have gained operational victory, at the cost of a strategic defeat.

Christian leaders have not thought this through. They are now urging the government to listen to the "voice of the people" and change the law. That is a dangerous thing to be asking. In a few years time, the referendum might be about "banning the proclamation of the Christian gospel". Imagine what would happen, if the majority voted in favour of the referendum. If Christian leaders were consistent, they would have to urge the government to listen to the "voice of the people" and impose a ban on Christian preaching activities.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Half Done Job?

My Father hated half done jobs. If anyone in our family did not do their work properly, we would be gently instructed to do it again and do it right.

Most Christians believe that Jesus did a half done job. They believe that he died on the cross for our sins, but he did not do enough to get rid of sin and totally destroy the power of the devil. He did not do enough for the Kingdom of God to be established. Most Christians believe that Jesus will return at the end of the age to complete his half done job. His first effort did not the job, so he will have to come back and finish it properly.

The New Testament teaches something different. Just before he breathed his last, Jesus said, “It is finished”. He was not just referring to his life. He was declaring that he had completed the task assigned to him and that he had done it properly.

The New Testament declares that Jesus totally dealt with sin. He destroyed the power of the devil. He ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to live in every believer. He had done everything necessary to roll back the damage that had been done by the fall and bring in the Kingdom of God. Jesus sat down at the right hand of God, who seemed to be pleased with what he had done. It is hard to see what more he could do.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Modern Atheism

A journalist has written a series of column in our local newspaper explaining why he is an atheist. He does not seem to be virulently anti-Christian. He just believes that Christianity is not very relevant to modern life.

Once people needed God to explain why life exists. The theory of evolution makes this unnecessary. Once people needed help to decide right from wrong, but now people can work out what is good and evil without the help of a god. The journalist concluded that there is just no role left for a god. If his only experience of Christianity is believers with peace (so deep down in their hearts it cannot escape) and hope of heaven, I am not surprised that he has reached this conclusion.

Christians reacted strongly to his arguments, but maybe the problem rests with us. Something is seriously wrong with the church when a reasonable person can just assume that the theory of evolution has made Christianity redundant.

Imagine if he had made the same argument in Jerusalem after the day of Pentecost. When Peter was preaching after in the temple after the man who had been lame from birth was healed (Acts 3), all philosophical arguments seemed to be irrelevant. If someone had called out that evolution made God irrelevant, the response would be obvious. “Can the evolutionary process heal a man who has been lame from birth?”.

Imagine the situation in Samaria.

When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. So there was great joy in that city (Acts 8:6-8).
If someone had suggested that humans can now decide right and wrong without help from a god, the crowd would have laughed. Someone would have asked, “Can the people who can distinguish good from evil, get paralytics and cripples restored to full health.

Christianity is currently facing a strong philosophical attack from various atheist groups. The effectiveness of this attack is a sign of our weakness. If the modern church was moving in the power of the Spirit, the arguments of the atheist philosophers would be falling flat.
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power (1 Cor 2:4).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Authority (18) - Kingdom of God

Jesus kingdom is completely and totally different from any other kingdom. There is authority in his kingdom, but it is limited and voluntary authority that emerges from temporary submission to respected people. Imposed authority has no place in the Kingdom of God. Kingdom authority is not busy authority, it is usually restrained.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Authority (17) - Busy Authority

The authority of the centurion was busy authority. He had absolute authority over the men under his command, but Rome expected him to enforce that authority. If a soldier refused to obey a command from the centurion, he would be beaten or killed. His authority was mandatory authority, so the centurion had no choice but to use it. If he did not enforce his authority, he would lose his position and be returned to the ranks, or thrown out of the army.

Demonic powers hold busy authority. The devil demands that evil spirits use their power. If they withheld their power they would be severely punished.

Christian authority is not busy authority. Jesus does expect Christians to enforce their authority over demons and sickness, but this is free authority. Christians who do not obey Jesus command to heal the sick and cast out demons are not punished. We are free to withhold this authority by leaving it inactive. On the other hand, Jesus does not expect Christian to enforce their authority in order to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

The gospel way is restrained authority, so when Christians gain authority, they will usually follow Jesus example and exercise it sparingly. If their authority is not respected, they will leave it inactive. Christians will restrain their authority, rather than force people to obey.

The authority exercised by parents is a good example. Good parents only exercise as much authority as is necessary. When a child is small the parent will often force their children do things that are good for them. They will make them eat good food and force them to attend school, but they will also be teaching their children to freely do what is right. As the child grows and learns, the parents will give the child more freedom and impose their authority less. By the time the children enter their teens, the parent’s authority should be mostly restrained, as they will rarely need to force their child to do something against their will. Parental authority should become less and less busy.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Authority (16) - Two Millennia Later

Jesus has continued this restrained approach for the last 2000 years. He still has authority over the earth, but he has not enforced that authority. Instead, he sent the Holy Spirit to the earth. The Holy Spirit submits to the will of Jesus, so he is under Jesus authority. The Holy Spirit is not human, so he cannot take authority on earth. He can only act on earth, if he has delegated from Jesus who is a man (and therefore entitled to authority on earth).

The Holy Spirit attempts to convict sinners, but they are free to ignore him. He does not force people to repent. The Holy Spirit dwells within Christians. He will teach us the will of Jesus, if we are willing to listen.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth (1 John 2:20).
The Holy Spirit tells Christians what Jesus wants them to say and do, but most Christians pick and choose. When we hear what the Holy Spirit it saying, we are free to ignore him, and quite often do.

This is the current situation. Jesus still has total authority, but he has chosen not to enforce it. The angels carry out his instructions. The Holy Spirit does his will. Most of the 6 billion people on earth ignore his authority, but he chooses not to impose his authority upon them. Jesus has total authority but it is restrained authority.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Worry about the Economy?

I am worried about the economy. The economic signs and statistics seem to be pointing to a recovery. People are heaving a sigh of relief. “If that is depression, its not too bad. We can cope”.

The reason that I am worried is that some prophecies about economic crisis suggested that crisis would strike when things are coming right. Just when people are saying, “Everything is fine”, the economy will collapse.

I do not have a revelation about this, but if God is going shake our economy, we have not seen it yet. It will come at the very time when we stop worrying about it. That seems to be happening now.

I wrote the words above about a month ago. After reading them again yesterday, I saw a couple of interesting newspaper articles.

The New Zealand economy is on the cusp of a fragile recovery," said Shamubeel Eaqub, the NZIER's chief economist (New Zealand Herald 1 Sept 2009).

Goldman Sachs JBWere has called time on the recession and expects a steady rise in economic growth over the next 18 months (Stuff 1 Sept 2009).

For most New Zealanders the recess has been nowhere near as bad as predicted. Only three in ten New Zealanders believed the recession had turned out to be as bad as expert or the news media predicted (The Press 4 Sept 2009).
I also listened to John Paul Jackson’s warning of the Perfect Storm.

Last night I had a dream. I am not sure if it was a revelation, or just emerged from the thoughts that were swirling around in my mind.

I had joined with some other people for a picnic by beside a railway line. When a train came by, a tanker waggon swung out an hit a rock that knocked it off the track. The locomotive and the passenger cars remained on the track, so the people within them were unharmed. They were able to roll on, leaving the tanker waggon lying on its side beside the track.

While we were still picnicking, a passenger train came by. Once of the passenger cars struck the tanker waggon, and the entire train toppled on its side beside the track. I rushed ahead of the people that were with me, and entered into one of the carriages. Some of the people had escaped, but others were trapped where they set. I had to lift debris from the collapse carriage off, so they could free themselves. The train was totally wrecked, but all the passengers eventually escaped.

I wondered if the dream related to the economy. Maybe the crash that people believe they have escaped will be quickly followed by another crash that will be far more serious. Will people come to new life after this crash?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Authority (15) - Restrained

Authority can be left inactive, withheld and not enforced. This is restrained authority. Authority in the Kingdom of God is always restrained.

Jesus demonstrates restrained authority. Before he ascended into heaven made a bold proclamation.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matt 28:18).
This statement is true. Jesus victory on the cross gave him all authority on earth and in heaven, but he is free to use this authority how he chooses. What he has done with his authority is really interesting.

Jesus actively exercises his authority in heaven. The angels do his bidding and carry out his will.

Things are different on earth. The reality is that most people on earth ignore his authority. Their only acknowledgment of him is to use is name as a curse. Christians call him Lord, but we only obey him when it suits us. We do not always take seriously the advice that Jesus gives us through the Holy Spirit. Christian leaders often build their own empires rather than doing his will.

Judging by what is happening on earth, an impartial observer would conclude that Jesus has very little authority on earth. This is not true. Jesus still has total authority on earth, but he has mostly chosen not to exercise it. His authority has been withheld. It is real, but mostly inactive.

Jesus made a deliberate decision to leave his authority inactive. If he chose, he could send a hundred billion angels into the world at any time. These angels could force every person on earth to do his will on threat of death. However this is not the way that Jesus operates. When Jesus was being arrested he rebuked the disciple who drew his sword.
All who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matt 26:53,54).
Jesus could have called twelve thousand angels to rescue him, but he chose not to use them because coercion and force leads to more coercion and force. This is restrained authority. Jesus had authority over the angels, but he chose not to exercise that authority, because he had chosen a different path. Restrained authority is left inactive to achieve a higher purpose.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Authority (14) - Human

Jesus set his followers free by giving them authority over their own lives and empowering them by the Holy Spirit. He did not give his authority to the church leaders or elders. Nor did he give authority to human governments. He returned authority back to people and families, as it was in the beginning. Since Jesus has set us free, we must be careful about submitting to other authorities.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Gal 5:1).
Christians should not give their freedom to church leaders and pastors. They should submit to a wise elder, or group of elders, but they should remember that they are free to withdraw that submission at any time, if that leader loses the plot.

Christians should not submit to human political powers. We should put up with them, so we can get on with sharing the gospel and serving the kingdom, but we should never forget that they are usurpers. If they prevent us from serving Jesus, we will take back our submission, and take the consequence. Taking up the cross means that the worst that political powers can do is take our lives.

We may occasionally submit to human judges, but mostly we will choose to defamed and dispossessed, rather than stand on our rights. We will turn the other cheek and walk the second mile as Jesus did, but if we do decide to go to a judge we will submit to a wise local judge. Once the case is resolved, we will withdraw the submission and return to freedom.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Authority (13) - Jesus

Jesus last words before he ascended into heaven were amazing.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matt 28:18).
This was true because he had defeated the devil on the cross (Heb 2:14). He was also referring back to the visions of Daniel. He saw some great empires trampling the earth, with the last being the worst. He then saw a vision of God on the throne. He came upon the clouds and was lead into the presence of God. This was a vision of the ascension.
He was given authority, glory and sovereign power;
all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away,
and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Dan 7:14).
As he stood before his disciples, Jesus was saying, “This prophecy is being fulfilled in me. All authority and sovereign power over all peoples and nations has been given to me. I am about to go into heaven and sit at the right hand of the father. My dominion will never pass away and my kingdom will never be destroyed.”

The most important aspect of Daniel’s vision is that he explains to us what Jesus did with this enormous authority.
Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High (Dan 7:27).
Jesus did not wield his authority vigorously. He did not give it to empires, nation states and local kings. He did not give his authority to democracies. He did not give it to bishops or pasts. Jesus gave his authority to his people. He gained all the sovereignty and power under heaven will be handed over to the saints, as they repent and believe and receive the Holy Spirit.

This is how his Kingdom works. The saints have the Holy Spirit living within them, so they can hear his voice. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will teach us everything that he taught.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).
When Christians obey the voice of the Holy Spirit, they are submitting to Jesus will. When his will is done, his kingdom has come. The Kingdom comes as people obey the voice of the Holy Spirit.

This is why the great commission is so important. Jesus told the disciples,
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.. (Matt 28:18a).
They must reach the people of all nations. Those who have repented and believed should be baptised. Baptism is important, because they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Once they have received the Holy Spirit they can be taught to obey Jesus.
teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matt 28:18b).
New disciples can be taught to listen to the Holy Spirit. If disciples follow the leading of the Spirit, they will be obeying the commands of Jesus. The Kingdom of God will be coming, because Jesus will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.

When Jesus spoke with the disciples, he was not saying:
I am the boss.
You are now under my authority.
Everyone on earth must do exactly what I say.
Force them to do my will.
He was actually saying something more like this.
I have taken back the authority that Satan stole from us.
I have restored authority over the earth back to us humans.
You are now free the power of sin and evil, and political powers.
You now have authority over your own lives; be careful not to lose it
Go and teach the nations that they can have authority over their own lives. If they repent and believe, I will send them the Holy Spirit to live in them. He will reveal my commands to them. If they follow his voice, they will be doing my will on earth, so that peace and blessing can come to earth as it exists in heaven.
Jesus authority is restrained authority. He exercises authority in heaven, but limits himself on earth to giving advice through the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Authority (12) - Fall and Recovery

The fall handed authority on earth to the Satan. When he tempted Jesus, he gloated that all the authority and glory of the kingdoms of the world have been given to him (Luke 4:6). He did not understand that authority on earth could only be held by a human. He was an angel, so his claim to authority on earth was illegitimate.

Satan’s stolen authority was evident in the numerous people possessed by demons and the number oppressed by sickness. Jesus demonstrated his victory in advance by healing the sick and casting out demons.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him (Acts 10:38).
When Jesus died upon the cross and rose again, Satan was totally defeated. He took back the authority that he had stolen.

Jesus won a total victory on the cross, but he did not cling to the authority that he took back. Jesus died to set us free from sin and death, and from the authority of the devil. Here are some amazing promises.
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36).
Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2).
For he who was… called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman (1 Cor 7:22).
I am free and belong to no man (1Co 9:19)
Jesus death and resurrection set us free. Those who believe in him belong to no one else. The gospel takes people out from under the false authority:
  • demonic powers
  • sickness
  • political powers
  • religious powers
Jesus restored total freedom to those who believe in him. That freedom is authority over our own life. When Jesus set us free, he restored us back to the same state as Adam and Eve in the garden. We have authority over our lives and are free to choose how we to think and live.

Freedom is authority over my own life. A free person has authority to decide what they will think and do. No one has authority over them. No one can coerce them into doing things that they do not wish to do. All external authority limits freedom. If someone if given authority over an aspect of another’s life, they have lost freedom. If the other person gains total authority, then they have lost all freedom.

Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit within us to teach us the wisdom of God,
The Holy Spirit.. will teach you all things (John 14:26).
We can understand the will of God, because his Spirit has written his wisdom onto our hearts. The Holy Spirit will teach us, but he will always leave us free. He will never force us to obey God. Even if we chose to ignore his wisdom and do stupid things, the Holy Spirit will not force us to do what is right.

John explained what Jesus accomplished.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the authority (exousia) to become children of God (John 1:12).
When people accepted Jesus and believed in him, he gave them authority. This is amazing. Jesus had all authority, but when we accept the gospel, he gives that authority back to us. Jesus said that the sons of God are free (Matt 17:26). The person who becomes a child of God receives authority over their life. They are set free again.