Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Love and Submission (6) Fathers and Sons

The relationship between a father and a son begins with love, not authority. When a baby is born, all the father can do is love and provide for his son. He has no authority to tell his baby son what to do, because the son cannot speak or understand commands.

As he grows, the son submits to his father, because he recognises his father’s love. This creates his father's authority. The father can reinforce his authority by picking up the son and carrying where he wants him to go. He can also strengthen his authority with sanctions, such as timeout or loss of privileges. If the father threatens force, he might obey his fathers out of fear, but that is not ideal.

When the son gets older, he realises that he does not have to obey his father, if he does not want to. The father’s authority can disappear, if his son does not understand his love.

Adult sons usually leave their father’s home. They will continue to appreciate their father’s advice, so the father still has limited authority in his son’s life.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Love and Submission (5) Elders and Husbands

The scriptures do not give elders authority. Elders are commanded to watch over people, serve them and protect them. But they are not given authority to control them.

Because we are engaged in a spiritual battle, new Jesus-followers are encouraged to submit to elders. This free action gives authority to the elder (an elder does not have an innate authority). They only have authority that is created when someone submits to them. If the people submitting lose their respect for the elder and withdraw their submission, the elder loses their authority.

Elders often demand that people in their church submit to them. This is a false understanding of authority. If people must obey them, they are exercising domination and control, which is a distortion of true authority. True authority is given by freely by submission, it cannot be demanded.

The same applies to husbands and wives. Wives are urged to submit to their husbands (just as husbands have to submit to the will of their wives, because they love them). Husbands do not have innate authority that allows them to demand that their wives obey them. Demanded obedience is actually domination.

Submission that cannot be freely withdrawn at any time, is domination and control, not true authority.

Christians should stop claiming that they have authority, because they are male or mature, or have been appointed to a particular role. They should earn authority, by loving, serving and demonstrating wisdom.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Love and Submission (4) Active not Passive

Submission in the New Testament is active, not passive. The Greek word “upotasso” means to place yourself under another. The person submitting actively places themselves under the person that they have chosen to submit to. This is a free action. This gives the person that they submit to authority in their life. It also means that they can remove the authority, if they decide not to submit.

Christians often present submission as passive. They assume that a person with authority can demand that others submit to them, but this is a distortion of true authority. Submission is a choice. If a person has to submit, then they do not have a choice, and they have lost the freedom that God created in them.

True biblical submission is voluntary. If the person with authority is unreasonable, immoral, or unlawful, the people who have submitted to them are free to withdraw their submission.

Submission has to be earned with love and service. If they person with authority stops loving and serving, they will lose their authority, because people will stop submitting to them.

The person who submits creates their authority of another person. This gives them the power to destroy the authority, if it goes wrong. Allowing people with authority to demand submission, eliminates this protection, and enhances domination and control. This is wrong. Authority must be controlled by the people submitting. This is the best protection against tyranny.

Friday, June 24, 2016

King of the North

Whichever way the Brexit vote today goes, the European Union will be irretrievably weakened. I dislike empires, so that does not worry me. The problem with the decline of the European Union is that the power of NATO in Europe will be strengthened. The leaders of NATO love war, so their rise in power will be disastrous for Europe (See King of the North).

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Love and Submission (3) ERAS

Theological bloggers have recently stirred up a ruckus about the doctrine of the Trinity. A group of theologians led by Wayne Grudem have argued that within the Trinity there is an eternal submission of the Son to the Father. They used to call it Eternal Subordination, but now refer to it as “Eternal Relations of Authority and Submission” (ERAS). Other theologians argue this is a denial of the Nicene Creed.

I am not going to get into the arcane arguments, but simply note that the label ERAS shows that they do not understand authority. The order of the words indicates that they see authority as prior to submission, ie authority requires submission. The Father has authority, so the Son must submit.

If they really understood authority they would put it the label the other way round as ERSA. Relations of Submission and Authority would be quite different. Authority can be obtained in two ways.

  • Authority can be taken, usually taken with threats of force.
  • Authority can be given, by some agreeing to submit to the wisdom of another.
Authority is not something innate in a person’s character. It is not something a person can just have.

If the relationship between the Father and the Son begins with the authority of the Father, it cannot be something innate in the person of the Father. The Father would only have authority over the son, if he could force the Son to obey him. This would be domination of the Son by the Father, or Imposed Authority. The Son would be subordinate to the Father, so not truly divine.

The only way that the Father can have authority over the Son is if the Son freely submits to the Father, creating the authority of the Father. Free submission creates the authority of the person submitted to. This authority is temporary and limited. The person given authority only gets authority over the aspects of life that are submitted to them. If the person giving submitting withdraws their submission, the authority created disappears.

I do not know if there is a relationship of Authority and Submission between the Father and the son. But if there is, it must be a relationship of submission and authority, in which the Son gives authority to the Father by freely submitting to him. The submission of the Son would come first and create the authority of the Father.

The fact that the proponents of ERAS begin with authority suggests that they have a distorted view of authority, in which the one with authority can demand the submission of another. This is domination, not true authority

Monday, June 20, 2016

Love and Submission Again

Love and submission are inseparably entwined.

It is obvious that husband and wives should love each other. This means that they will also submit to each other.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21).
So why does Paul say that wives should submit to their husbands (Eph 5:22) and that wives should submit to their husbands ((Eph 5:25)?

I believe that this presentation reflects their weaknesses, not their strengths.

Many men tend to be so task-focussed that they can easily become so absorbed in their calling that they begin to sacrifice their wives and families to the cause. They need to being reminded to love their wives. They often get puffed up about their wisdom, so they think they know what is best for their wives. The solution is love. Because they are strong, the natural sin of men is to slip into domination. In the worst case this becomes violence. The antidote is love.

Women usually understand much better how relationships work, so they can slip into manipulating a relationship to get what they want. The antidote for manipulation is submission. Women love their children, so they can be inclined to put their needs before God’s work. If they love God and their husbands, they will sometimes need to submit to what God is doing, even if it has a cost for their family.

So husbands and wives should love each other, and that means that one or other will frequently need to submit to the will of the other.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Love and Submission

Love and submission are inseparably entwined. The common teaching that husbands love and wives submit fails to understand that this is no love without submission.

Love is not self-seeking (1 Cor 13:5).
When you love someone, you want what they want, more than what you want. You cannot help yourself. So when you love someone, you find yourself submitting to their will more often than to your own will. If you don’t, you probably do not love as much as you think you do.

Likewise, Christian submission is freely given out of love. Submission that is demanded by someone because they are superior or higher in the hierarchy is not true submission. True submission is a free response to love and wisdom. Demanded submission is domination.

Submitting to someone who loves you is easy, because they want what is good for you. This is why it is easy to submit to Jesus.

Jesus was the wisdom (word) that was there at the beginning and created all things (John 1:1-3). He did not need anyone to tell him what to do.Yet he loved to submit to the will of the Father (John 5:19).

Love and submission are different sides of the same coin.
• You cannot truly love without submitting.
• True submission requires love.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Two Thousand Years

The big question for God’s people is why after 2000 years, the Kingdom of God has made so little progress, compared to the glorious promises of scripture. The second question is why we can have confidence that the Kingdom will become stronger and come to fullness at some point in the future.

I answer these two questions in my book called Kingdom Authority.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sixties Generation

I am part of the sixties generation. I once thought that this could be a pivotal generation. We grew up during the happy days of the 1950s without too many scars or hang-ups. (In hindsight, maybe life was too easy).

The sixities generation was a radical generation, which cast off the restraint of the past and embraced the new with delight. We were a generation that wanted to change the world, and it seemed like it could happen.

In the early 1980s, Dennis Peacocke wrote a prophetic articled the Sleeping Tiger (see Comatose Tiger). He said that the sixties generation had a prophetic calling to advance the Kingdom of God, but they gone to sleep, lulled by prosperity, comfort and consumerism. Dennis suggested that God would revive this generation to return to their calling. The sleeping tiger would arise and be dangerous. It would bring massive change to the world.

Unfortunately, this has not happened. The sleeping tiger kept on sleeping and might even be dying. You cannot tell from looking at it.

Generation X has produced some good leaders, who learnt good stuff from their tiger-generation parents (perhaps while they were asleep), but I expect that we will have to wait for the millennial generation to make the big move that God is calling.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Transformational Events

In a previous post, I suggest that Christians should be looking for the next big transformational events on God’s linear plan. One of these is the collapse of political empires and their military support. The scriptures warn that religious disputes, war, economic crisis and plague produce empire (Rev 6:1-8). They also prophesy a massive collapse of empire, which is so awful that people will be turned off empire forever.

I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother (Haggai 2:21-22).
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev 6:15-16)
If the church is true to its Lord, the rise of empire will lead to persecution (Rev 6:9-11). Perseverance through persecution will refine and prepare the remnant.
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people (Rev 13:10).
Persecution will produce a prepared remnant ready to work with the Holy Spirit to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
The kingdom of the world has becomes
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever (Rev 11:15).

Monday, June 06, 2016

Empire and Remnant

The sin cycle begins with forgetfulness. An important aspect of the sin cycle is the pride/empire cycle.

The normal human response to crisis and disaster is to trust in political power for a solution. This half works, which produces human confidence and pride. Pride pushes for the accumulation of political power, which eventually leads to Empire. Because empires are motivated by pride, they always overstretch and eventually collapse.

The pride/empire cycle makes history seem circular, because empires seem to come and go with monotonous regularity.

God has a different view of history. He sees the collapse of empire as an opportunity for a prepared remnant to fill the gap with a different model of government that does not rely on political power and coercion. Jesus called that new government the kingdom of God.

If the church is true to its Lord, the rise of empire will lead to persecution. Perseverance through persecution will refine and prepare the remnant.
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people (Rev 13:10).
Persecution will produce a prepared remnant if they persevere to the end (Rev 6:9-11). The prepared church drops out of the empire cycle down to the narrow path to the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit will work through his prepared remnant to establish his kingdom on earth.
The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever (Rev 11:15).
Since Jesus victory on the cross, there have been several opportunities for this to happen. The greatest was the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Unfortunately, each time an opportunity has arisen, a remnant that understood the times and was prepared did not exist. Instead, the church had become so entwined with empire that it has been swept away with it when it collapsed.

God's plan is to use the opportunities presented by the collapse of Empire to establish his Kingdom on earth, but he can only do that if he has a remnant that is ready for the task.

This explains why the book of Revelation always seems to be on the verge of fulfilment. It perfectly described the rise and fall of empires.

It also explains why Revelation has not yet been fulfilled perfectly. The opportunity has arisen several times, but the remnant has never been prepared, but like the five foolish maidens, runs out of oil when the going gets tough. So history always clicked back into another turn of the pride/empire cycle.

We are coming into a season where pride and political power are peaking again. The current empire is already overstretched. If the remnant is ready, we could escape the cycle and see the massive advance of the Kingdom of God that the scriptures promise. Our time could be the time of fulfilment, as it was many times before, when the empire of the day collapsed.

The prophetic voice in the church is stronger now than it has ever been. If the prophets fulfil their calling and teach people how to prepare, this could be the time when we escape from the cycle. Unfortunately, most prophets are so dazzled by empire that they do not understand the times, let alone how to prepare. So another remnant might miss the boat, and another opportunity will disappear into the circle of pride and empire.

This current season could still be the one where it happens. Although the power mongers are waiting in the wings, the current empire has not yet reached its peak. There is still time for the remnant to prepare. So wake up prophets and sound a clear trumpet call!

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Linear or Circular

Many Christian believe that history is circular. Empires rise and fall. Nations wax and wane. History repeats. Seasons come and go.

This view is not true. God has a purpose, so his approach to history is linear. History has a beginning and an end. And there are key transformational events along the way. The calling of Abraham, giving of the law to Moses, Jesus death resurrection and ascension, the destruction of Jerusalem are examples of transformational events leading to the fulfilment of God’s ultimate purpose.

God’s view of history is linear. Sin is circular. The circularity of sin can be seen in the history of Israel. When things were going well, the children of Israel would forget about God. Forgetfulness led to rebellion, which caused God to withdraw and disaster to follow. When disaster struck the people cried out to God for help. He is merciful so he came and rescued them. Blessings would follow, but the people would soon forget and return to the circle of sin once more.

God’s purpose is leading his people from blessing to blessing, but mostly they get stuck in the circle of sin. This is why history seems to be circular, but that is not God’s plan.

Christians should not assume that history is going round in circles. Rather we should be looking for the next transition even in God’s plan, and make sure we are working with him to get there.

Unfortunately, the church often gets stuck in this circle, too.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Submission or Control

Authority is a topic that gets Christians stirred up. Who should exercise authority in the church? Must everyone submit to the pastor: Do apostles have authority over pastors? Must prophets submit to pastors? These debates focus on control of the church.

The problem is that when control is at work in a church at any level, the spiritual powers of evil have authority to work in it. The question we should be asking why the spiritual powers of evil have authority to work in the church.

The biblical model is that we must all submit to one another and love each other. That means that even the most experienced pastor or prophet can be challenged by a new Christian. Submitting to one another eliminates control and shuts the spiritual powers of evil out of the church.